CHEMICAL VS PHYSICAL SUNSCREEN!
When picking out a sunscreen, there are other important things to consider besides the SPF level. One of the overlooked things is the type of sunscreen you are putting on your skin: physical or chemical. Let's break these down for you.
Chemical sunscreens are made from carbon-based compounds and they work by creating a chemical reaction that transforms the UV rays into heat and then releases the heat from your skin. After you have applied your sunscreen and let it sit on your skin for at least 20 minutes, the chemicals start working once you're out in the sun. The UV rays are first absorbed into your skin, then transformed into heat, and finally released from your skin. Chemical sunscreens are made from formulas such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone. While chemical sunscreen makes it easy to blend your sunscreen into your skin and even offers protection in the water, there has been some research that claims certain chemical ingredients are not good for you.
3 Ingredients to watch out for:
- Oxybenzone: hormone disruption, organ system toxicity
- Octinoxate: hormone disruption, reproductive toxicity
- Homosalate: hormone disruption, enhanced absorption of pesticides
Because of these potentially harmful ingredients, some people recommend that we stay away from chemical sunscreen overall, plus it is also harmful to marine life when we wear it in the ocean. My advice would be to stay away from oxybenzone if possible because it is the most harmful sunscreen ingredient, but you should ALWAYS wear sunscreen when out in the sun. If your only option is to wear chemical sunscreen, it is better to WEAR IT then to not wear any at all!
Chemical Sunscreen Pro
- Water and sweat-resistant
- Easier to blend into the skin
- Absorbs quickly into skin
Chemical Sunscreen Con
- Harmful to marine life
- Can increase brown spots due to increases in internal skin temperature
- Requires at least 20 minutes before working
- Reapplication needs to be more frequent
- More likely to cause skin irritation
- May clog pores
- Chemicals may cause hormone disruption amongst other things
On the other hand, physical sunscreen is made out of minerals and acts as a barrier between your skin and the UV RAYS. This means the minerals (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) reflects the UV rays off of your skin. These minerals naturally offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays whereas chemical sunscreen requires a high mixture of different chemicals to achieve broad-spectrum protection. The best ingredient for physical sunscreen is Zinc Oxide. Zinc Oxide offers the best protection against UV rays. The biggest downside of Zinc Oxide is that it generally leaves a white cast on your face and can make your skin feel heavy. With physical sunscreen, you have to make sure that you spread it all over your skin and it's important to be aware that it can be easy to rub off and it is typically not waterproof/sweat resistant.
Physical Sunscreen Pro
- Less irritating and better for sensitive skin
- Immediate protection
- Lasts longer in direct UV rays than Chemical sunscreen
- Less likely to clog pores
- Longer shelf life
- Better protection against UV rays
Physical Sunscreen Con
- Rubs off easily
- Not water/sweat resistant
- May leave a white cast on the skin
- Needs more sunscreen to be applied for protection
Overall, I would recommend wearing an SPF of at least 30 every single day on areas that are exposed directly to the sun, such as your face. I generally wear physical sunscreen as my day-to-day sunscreen. When I know I will be out in the sun for a long period of time or might be in need of waterproof sunscreen, I will wear both physical and chemical sunscreen! Chemical sunscreen will be applied first, then physical sunscreen on top. This combination offers outer and inner protection for your skin! Be sure to check the ingredients in your sunscreen before buying/applying to ensure you are picking the right sunscreen. Finally, I recommend your sunscreen having at MINIMUM 15% of zinc oxide. Stay safe out there!
All the best,