Chemical VS physical sunscreen: Do you know the difference?
Gone are the days when sunscreen was considered a “summertime only” product. Now, we all know better. The sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays don’t go into hibernation so your skin is always going to feel it’s damaging and possibly deadly effects – unless of course, you wear sunscreen.
Fortunately, you’ll find lots of high sun protection factor options, both chemical and physical, in Skin Renewal’s Online Skin Shop. Also, don’t worry if you don’t know the difference between the two categories, we’re going to break it down for you.
A chemical sunscreen contains ingredients that penetrate your skin to function within it as well on the surface to absorb the UV rays that would otherwise cause damage. These skin-saving ingredients include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, mexoryl and octinoxate. Much like antioxidants, you’re always better off with more because they all work in slightly different ways. This is why most chemical sunscreens have a mix of several of these UV-sponges to ensure you’re getting broad-spectrum protection. Speaking of antioxidants, many chemical sunscreens make use of those two, ingredients such as vitamin C and E.
One of the big benefits of chemical sunscreen is that many of them are available in sheer, lightweight textures, making them ideal to apply on top of moisturisers and under make-up. They’re also less likely to leave a white cast and are more water resistant in comparison to physical sunscreens.
The downer, however, is that because they contain multiple ingredients, the risk of irritation increases for those with sensitive reactive skin, getting higher as the SPF climbs. They’re also only “active” twenty or so minutes after application and their protection starts to drop after direct UV exposure, meaning you have to reapply them more often.
Physical sunscreens create an actual barrier between your skin and the sun. Unlike chemical sunscreens that get absorbed into your skin, physical ones remain on the surface and start working from the moment they’re applied. And don’t worry, they also guard against both UVA and UVB rays, so they definitely do serve up broad-spectrum protection.
Ingredients-wise, they contain active minerals, the two most popular being titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Both of these are less likely to cause irritation in those with sensitive skin, making them a popular choice for children and anyone struggling with inflammatory conditions like rosacea or eczema.
As with just about everything, there are pros and cons. The negative aspects of physical sunscreen include the fact that they can be easily rubbed off, especially if they come into contact with water or sweat. Also, some formulas can leave a white cast if you don’t massage them into your skin properly.
The choice is yours
Ultimately, the type of sunscreen you choose is up to you. If you have very sensitive, reactive skin, a physical sunscreen might be best. If you’re a runner who’s always working up a sweat outdoors, the water resistance of a chemical sunscreen will be a skin-saver. You could even mix things up and use a physical one for day to day activity and a chemical one when it’s time to hit the beach or track. The most important thing is that you wear a high protection factor every time you set foot outside. Your future skin will thank you for it!