What is the difference between Physical and Chemical Sunscreen?

What is the difference between Physical and Chemical Sunscreen?

You already know how critical it is to wear sunscreen every day. And, you started following it only to realise there are different categories of sunscreen. 

So, how do you choose between physical and chemical sunscreen? 

  • Which one is best for you? 
  • And, what is physical and chemical sunscreen? 
  • What is the difference? 
  • Which one is recommended? 

We know that you have a zillion questions right now, so let’s dive in. 

Each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and knowing the difference can help you select a better sunscreen for your skin type. 

Chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen are the two most common types of sunscreen you will hear about. In a nutshell, physical sunscreens form a barrier on the skin, filtering out UV rays. In contrast, chemical sunscreens absorb and scatter the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Physical sunscreen – 

Physical sunscreens also known as mineral sunscreens are also referred to as sunblocks as they block out the sun rays. Physical sunscreens work by staying on the skin’s surface. It deflects and scatters harmful UV rays away from the skin. It contains mineral-based ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to block UV rays.

Pros of Physical Sunscreen 

  1. Protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  2. It is safe to use on infants and during pregnancy.
  3. It starts working as soon as you apply it; there is no need to wait before going outside.
  4. It is less likely to irritate sensitive skin. 
  5. It is more suitable for people prone to heat-activated skin conditions like rosacea.
  6. Physical sunscreen has a longer shelf life. 

Cons of Physical Sunscreen 

  1. Can easily rub off, sweat off, and rinse off—requires a more frequent application.
  2. It can appear white or chalky on the skin, especially darker complexions.
  3. It can feel heavy under makeup. 
  4. It is thick in consistency hence requires more effort to rub in. Also, it must be applied liberally to be fully effective.

Chemical sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens, also known as organic sunscreens, are chemical compounds that absorb UV rays. Then UV rays are converted into heat by these chemicals, released from the skin, and dispersed. Commonly used compounds are Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, and Avobenzone.

Pros of Chemical Sunscreens

  1. Chemical sunscreens are thinner hence easy to spread on the skin like a lotion, making them ideal for daily use.
  2. You don’t need to apply it in a large quantity. 
  3. Easier to combine with other skincare products

Cons of Chemical Sunscreens

  1. It has a risk of causing irritation and stinging on the surfaces.
  2. Only about 20 minutes after application, it becomes effective.
  3. It has been linked to an increased risk of redness in rosacea-prone skin types because it converts UV rays into heat.

What to look for when buying sunscreen?

While selecting a sunscreen, make sure your sunscreen covers the following points. 

  1. Protects from both UVA and UVB rays
  2. It is fragrance-free
  3. Non-comedogenic (will not clog pores).
  4. Oil-free
  5. Paraben-free
  6. SPF 30 or higher is recommended.

Sunscreen for acne-prone and sensitive skin 

If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, the right sunscreen will not cause breakouts. It may even improve the appearance of your skin. Look for a product that is labelled for sensitive or acne-prone skin. Some sunscreens can reduce the appearance of blemishes and discoloration because they contain niacinamide, a vitamin B3 family member.

But do you know what the most important thing is? 

Applying sunscreen before you step outside and use it consistently. Unsweetened Beauty always recommends using sunscreen irrespective of indoor or outdoor and weather. Otherwise, all your skincare efforts will go in vain.

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