Updated: Jun 18
You know how important it is to wear sun protection daily, but between the 2 types of sunscreen Physical and Chemical, how do you know which one is best?
The hard thing about sunscreen is that there are so many options out there, its hard to know where to start. There is spray-on SPF, mineral SPF duster sticks, sticks you can rub on, creams, they can even be made into foundations and powders.
Are they equally effective? The short answer is no. Not only are they less or more effective depending on if it’s SPF 15 or SPF 30 but it also has a lot to do with the ingredients.
Physical sunscreens work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin. This is why they are often referred to as physical blockers, because they sit on top of your skin like a shield.
Chemical sunscreen works by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. As a result, UV rays are not absorbed by the skin. Because of this, they are often referred to as chemical or organic absorbers.
There are two kinds of Ultraviolet rays that affect us: UVA & UVB
UVA – is the harsher ray. It can penetrate through glass and is responsible for skin cancer due the damage it causes to the DNA as it penetrates the skin. It also induces pre-mature aging and has a large role in hyperpigmentation.
UVB – has a shorter wavelength but still does damage. This is the ray that is responsible for sunburn. It also plays a role in skin cancer and hyperpigmentation as well.
Did you know that many SPF’s are only UVB protective? Chemical (organic) sunscreens usually contain octinoxate, octisalate, oxybenzone, and octocrylene. While Octocrylene helps a little with UVA protection, the others do NOT. They only combat UVB rays.
Physical (non-organic) sunscreens have ingredients that better protect against both types of rays. Such as: Titanium Dioxide, and Zinc Oxide. Zinc oxide has the most coverage for both UVA & UVB protection.
Broad Spectrum Protection from both UVA & UVB is vital to keep your skin healthy and happy! So wear that SPF! And look for sunscreens with Zinc or Titanium Dioxide in them.