The use of sunscreen in the daily routine can’t be emphasized enough. With so many options available in the market, we did cover on How to choose your next sunscreen not long time back. The latest debate in the market going on is on the best type of sunscreen to use – physical sunscreen or chemical sunscreen, like all the technical terms UVA, UVB, “broad-spectrum”, water resistant etc. were not enough :D.
Don’t worry, we have you covered! Let’s discuss in details.
Physical sunscreen (also known as mineral sunscreen), like the name suggests, acts as a physical barrier between the skin and the sun. It usually, is not absorbed in the skin and works by sitting on top of the skin and deflecting the damaging rays away from the skin.
Most common ingredients – Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
PHYSICAL SUNSCREEN PROS
- Naturally broad-spectrum and offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Since not absorbed in the skin, physical sunscreens are less likely to cause irritation on the skin thereby, making it better use for kids or people with sensitive skin.
- It offers protection from the sun from as soon as it is applied, no need to wait before heading out.
- Better for those with heat-activated skin (like rosacea and redness) as it deflects the heat from the sun away from the skin.
- Ideal for blemish-prone skin types as it is less likely to be pore-clogging.
- Longer shelf life.
PHYSICAL SUNSCREEN CONS
- Frequent reapplications are required as it tends to rub off, sweat off and rinse off easily.
- May appear white or chalky on the skin, making it incompatible for deeper skin tones.
- It creates an occlusive film, which results in increased perspiration causing the visible white drips, thereby, not ideal for use under daily makeup.
- Requires more effort to rub in as it tends to be thicker.
- Has to applied generously to be fully effective.
Chemical sunscreens contains organic compounds which creates a chemical reaction and works by changing UV rays into heat, which is then released from the skin and scattered.
Most common ingredients – oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone
CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN PROS
- Thinner, spreads easily like a lotion making it ideal for daily wear.
- Easy to use with other products and does not feel heavy under makeup.
- Less product is needed to protect the skin.
CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN CONS
- Usually not meant for sensitive skin as many ingredients are required to create protection against both UVA and UVB and higher SPFs.
- It might clog pores and cause breakouts on acne prone skin.
- Becomes effective approximately after 20 minutes of application.
- Because it changes UV rays into heat, there is an increased chance of redness for rosacea prone skin.
- The chemical ingredients oxybenzone and oxtinoxate have been banned in some countries as they pose a risk of degrading coral reef when worn while swimming in the ocean. (This applies to water-resistant beach sunscreens only and not daily use sunscreens or makeup with sunscreen.)
So, which one is better – physical or chemical?
Well, it depends on what suits your skin type and concerns. If you have a sensitive, acne-prone skin you might want to use a physical sunscreen but on the other hand, you might want to wear chemical sunscreen under your makeup as it doesn’t give that chalky and heavy feel. Both the sunscreens do a great job in protecting your skin from the sun, just need to find one that suits your needs 🙂