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Chemical vs physical SPF


I am sure you have heard a lot of skin experts tell you the importance of wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen every day, but it is also equally important to be wearing the right kind of sunscreen. It is also important to be fully aware of the pros and cons before you settle for one sunscreen.

There are mainly two types of sunscreen Chemical Sunscreen and Physical Sunscreen. Physical sunscreens form a barrier around your skin while chemical sunscreen absorb and scatter the sun’s harsh UV rays.

Physical sunscreens are also called Sun Blocks. They are made of mineral ingredients like titianium dioxide and zinc oxide that help block out the sun’s rays. This sunscreen stays on top of your skin and deflects UV rays away from your skin.


Pros of using Physical Sunscreens:

· It offers protection from both UVA & UVB rays

· Safe to use during pregnancy

· You don’t need to wait after applying. Your skin is immediately protected as soon as you apply it

· It is less likely to irritate people with sensitive skin and those prone to skin conditions such as rosacea

· Longer shelf life


Cons of using Physical Sunscreens:

· It appears white and chalky on the skin especially for people with darker skin

· Gets wiped off and sweat off easily, hence you need to keep reapplying it

· Can block pores and make your skin feel heavy especially if you are wearing makeup above it

· Requires a generous amount to be applied to get maximum benefits


Chemical sunscreens are seen as more Organic Sunscreens. They contain a chemical compound that help absorb UV rays. This includes compounds such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone. These compounds help change UV rays into heat which are then scattered all over the skin.


Pros of using Chemical Sunscreens:

· It is thinner, making it easy to spread and easy to use daily

· Less product is needed

· It does not block your pores or appear white or chalky. Good for people with darker skin tones


Con of using Chemical Sunscreens:

· Skin it is absorbed by your skin, it can lead to skin irritation. Plus many ingredients are required to make UVA & UVB protection creating additional chances of irritation and skin discomfort

· Need to apply it at least 30 minutes before you step out

· It can lead to breakouts and skin purging


So, what’s the key difference between Physical Sunscreen & Chemical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreens do not get absorbed by the skin and block out the sun’s rays, while chemical sunscreens get absorbed within the skin like a sponge. It’s best to use both sunscreens (if your skin works well with both formulas). This will ensure that you get both inside & outer protection from the sun. So, if you are using a physical sunscreen then you want to ensure that it contains Zinc Oxide (over Titanium Oxide). Zinc is an anti-irritant so its works well even for people with sensitive skin. Zinc oxide provides the most complete UVA protection. But remember you also need UVB protection. This is where chemical sunscreens come in. If your skin can tolerate both sunscreens, then a combo sunscreen will give you the best results.


But which one is the right one?

This is where your skin type matters. For acne-prone skin, you should be careful of the sunscreen you use. There are two reasons you can get break-outs with sunscreen; one is caused by occlusion of pores by comedogenic materials and the second is a sensitive reaction to UV-blocking ingredients. Breakouts can also occur due to emollients, fragrances, preservatives and other ingredients. Your best bet is it to look for a non-comedogenic products. Ingredients such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide are viewed as non-comedogenic.

Also for people with darker skin tones, it can be difficult to find the right sunscreen that does not make your skin appear pasty. It’s best to choose a chemical sunscreen in this case or a physical sunscreen that is tinted. Whichever sunscreen you choose, remember to keep applying it every two hours.


The Takeaway

Remember the best sunscreen is the one that best suits your skin type, skin tone and one that you enjoy applying generously.


Kaye's Beauty Book is here to help you choose better products that suit your skin, hair and lifestyle. All of the products mentioned are carefully researched and selected to ensure that the most credible information comes to you. If you do buy a product from one of our links, Kaye's Beauty Book may earn a commission.

II DISCLAIMER: Every skin is different, not everything works for everybody. I recommend you test the product before completely using any new product. II