At any age, and in any weather, sunscreen should be a skincare staple.
Not only is it one of the best ways to battle aging and wrinkles but it also protects against abnormal cell growth and melanoma. We all value a good cleanser and moisturizer and know that green products lean towards clean, but are you really considering what’s in your sunscreen and how it works with your skincare? The question begins with the physical versus chemical debate, and everyone is wondering which one is trump.
The answer? It depends.
For starters, let’s look at the differences between the two. It really comes down to an absorbent versus a reflector. Think of chemical as an absorbent, and physical as a reflector. As you probably guessed, chemical sunscreens contain chemicals. Typically those can include oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone, and they pretty much act as a sponge. They allow UV rays to enter the skin, and turn them into heat (usually infrared rays).
So, what’s good about chemical sunscreens?
- Applies easier because it’s thinner, and less is required
- They’re currently more common, making them easier to find
- They offer more UVA and UVB coverage
- Better for sports; holds up when you sweat or get wet
In turn, physical sunscreens are essentially a reflector and blocker. Rather than being absorbed into your skin; they sit on top of it and send the UV rays back where they came from. Physical sunscreens are commonly referred to as mineral sunscreens and contain active minerals like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Have you ever seen someone at the beach that looked like they haven’t rubbed their sunscreen in enough? That would be physical (one of the challenges with mineral sunscreens is that they can often leave a white cast).
What’s good about physical sunscreens?
- More likely to be used in natural products
- Ideal for sensitive skin, or children
- No wait time, protects as soon as it’s applied
- Better for the beach; physical blockers hold up best in direct UV light
How do I choose?
There is a reason that both are on the market. They both get the job done, and have their own benefits, so it really is about which one your skin approves of. We’d recommend doing a quick patch test on your skin to get an idea of how your skin reacts to a particular formula or brand. And of course if you’re looking to go more natural, physical is likely the way to go. The most important thing is to ensure you are protecting your skin in one way or another.
Looking for a mineral sunscreen?
Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen For Body | $36 5 fl oz.
Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense for face | $ 34 3 fl oz.
Beautycounter Protect All Over Sunscreen | $32 4.8 fl oz.
Elta MD Physical Broad Spectrum SPF 41 for face, tinted | $30 3 fl oz.
Coola Suncare for face and body | beginning at $26
Are you a physical or chemical sunscreen wearer?