Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreen: What They Are and Our Fav Skincare and Makeup Products with SPF

Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreen: What They Are and Our Fav Skincare and Makeup Products with SPF

You know how important sunscreen is to your face and body. It’s not just about preventing a sunburn but about protecting your skin from sun damage that you may not see for years to come. Sunscreen technology has come a long way in the past few years. You may have heard of physical and chemical sunscreens.

Let’s discuss some of the questions about sunscreens:

    • What’s the difference?
    • Which one is better for your skin?
    • What is a mineral sunscreen?

  • Is mineral sunscreen safe?
    • Which sunscreen should you use?
    • What is the best sunscreen for kids?

    Understanding Physical Sunscreens

    Physical sunscreens are often called inorganic, mineral sunscreens or physical blockers. These products work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect the UV rays. They have two main ingredients:

    • Titanium Dioxide
    • Zinc Oxide

    Physical sunscreens offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. When you apply one of these substances, your skin is immediately protected against the sun’s rays. If you have sensitive skin or are blemish-prone, a mineral sunscreen is less likely to cause irritation or clog pores. A sunscreen with zinc oxide is thought to be better for kids.

    The downside of a physical sunscreen is the texture. It can be chalky, opaque or filmy. The product is generally thick, which requires more effort to rub it in. It needs to be applied generously, but it often leaves a white film on the skin. The sunscreen is vulnerable to sweat and water, making it necessary to reapply more frequently.

    Understanding Chemical Sunscreens

    How do the chemicals in sunscreen work? Chemical sunscreens create a chemical reaction and transform the UV rays into heat. They are also referred to as organic absorbers. Generally, you can identify them by their main ingredient.

    What is the main active ingredient in sunscreen?

    Although there are quite a few different ingredients in chemical sunscreens, here are some of the key ones to look for:

    • Avobenzone
    • Oxybenzone
    • Tinosorb S and M
    • Octinoxate
    • Octocrylene
    • Octisalate
    • Homosalate

    Chemical sunscreens are generally thinner and easier to apply than physical sunscreens. The product spreads onto the skin, making them more comfortable for daily use especially under makeup products. Typically, chemical sunscreens can be formulated with additional skin treatment ingredients, offering other benefits beyond sunscreen.

    However, chemical sunscreens need to be applied about 20 minutes before going into the sun. These products are more likely to cause allergic reactions or skin irritations. When in direct UV light, you should re-apply a chemical sunscreen more often because the protection gets used up quicker.  

    Choosing the Sunscreen for Your Needs

    Most skin experts agree that the sunscreen that is best for you is the one that you will use. The scientific community is still debating which one protects you better against UVA and UVB rays. Both physical and chemical sunscreens do a good job, provided you apply them every day and reapply them throughout your day. A mineral powder sunscreen for face is easy to re-apply to replenish your protection.

    Colorescience Daily UV Essentials

    When choosing a sunscreen, it’s important to look at the formulation. First, make sure it doesn’t have any ingredients you might be allergic to. Then, focus on the elements. We recommend an SPF of at least 30, but no more than 50. It’s been proposed by the FDA to ban sunscreens labeled higher than 50 because there is no scientific evidence backing their protection.

    Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen or full-spectrum product that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The UVB rays are the ones that burn your skin, while UVA rays are the ones that age your skin. Both contribute to skin cancer.

    Sunscreens are also labeled as water-resistant. The term means that the SPF will be maintained for up to 40 minutes while you are swimming or sweating. Very water-resistant sunscreen maintains the SPF for up to 80 minutes. For regular daily use, you may not require a water-resistant sunscreen.

    EltaMD Broad Spectrum UV Sport

    Once you’ve examined the formulation, the final elements are personal choice. Find a sunscreen that is easy to apply the right amount. Most sunscreen failures are because too little is used. You should also look for a product that feels good on the skin, because you’ll want to apply it again.  

    Make sun care products part of your daily routine when you shop at LaLa Daisy.

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