Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreens

by Feb 27, 2023

There are two main types of sunscreen: physical and chemical.

Physical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreen contains active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and when applied, it forms a physical barrier that reflects or scatters away UV radiation. It is typically recommended for people with sensitive skin or for use on children, as it is less likely to cause irritation.

Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreen contains active ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, or octisalate, which work by absorbing UV radiation and converting it into heat that is then released from the skin.

It’s also worth noting that there are different levels of sun protection offered by sunscreen, which are denoted by the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number. The higher the SPF number, the more protection the sunscreen provides against UVB radiation. Additionally, some sunscreens offer broad-spectrum protection, which means they protect against both UVA and UVB radiation.

So What is the best type of sunscreen for you?

The best type of sunscreen for you depends on a few factors, such as your skin type, any skin conditions you may have, and your personal preferences. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right sunscreen:

Consider your skin type: If you have sensitive skin or are prone to skin irritation, a physical sunscreen may be a better option. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you may prefer a lightweight chemical sunscreen that won’t clog pores.

Look for broad-spectrum protection: Choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection to protect against both UVA and UVB radiation.

Choose an appropriate SPF: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for daily use.

Consider your activities: If you’ll be spending a lot of time in the water or sweating, choose a water-resistant sunscreen to ensure maximum protection.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to choose a sunscreen that you will use regularly and that you feel comfortable with. It’s also important to reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating to ensure continued protection.