Which sunscreen is best? A look at Physical and Chemical sunscreens

The good news is that a lot more of us are now aware of the dangers of UV exposure and the benefits of wearing a daily sunscreen. Not only is wearing a sunscreen important to protect your skin, but it’s one of the best anti-ageing tips we can think of.

The statistics on serious sun damage, particularly for us Australians, don’t look good, but applying a product daily to protect your skin is a simple step and available to all of us.

There are loads of different types of sunscreens on the market to choose from which can get a little overwhelming, and texture plays a big part in finding a product that we are comfortable with. Traditionally, sunscreens were thick, heavy, and greasy, and although they protected us, they certainly did not feel or look great on the skin.

Fortunately, things have come a long way, and we now have more options to choose from depending on our preferences. We can choose a texture that’s right for us and decide if we want a physical or chemical sunscreen. Let’s look at the difference between the two:

Physical Sunscreen

A physical sunscreen is fairly true to its name and will provide a shield between our skin and UV rays, effectively blocking them. The protective minerals filters contained in the product are usually Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide, which can be seen on the ingredient list. These types of formulas tend to be a little heavier and can leave a visible residue on the skin that’s tricky to blend in. If your skin is oilier, prone to breakout or you don’t like heavier products, then this type of sunscreen may not be for you. Newer formulas, however, are slowly working these kinks out and can be more easily applied leaving an invisible film. A physical sunscreen also provides immediate protection with no wait time before kicking in, so once the product is applied, we can head outside straight away.

Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens contain filters that absorb UV rays to prevent them from being harmful. The UV rays are converted into heat by the chemical filters in the product and released from the body. These formulas can be more likely to cause skin irritation so if possible, try a sample first if your skin is on the sensitive side. Also look for antioxidant ingredients to help fight against free radical damage to the skin that can be triggered by the chemicals in the product and the UV exposure. Usually these sunscreens are generally lighter in texture and blend into the skin more easily. Use a water-resistant formula if you are swimming or exercising and give it about half an hour to become effective.


So which type is best?

Always look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that will provide protection against UVA and UVB damage. Your lifestyle, skin type or preferences will determine your ultimate choice and depending on the activity, you may require both a physical and chemical sunscreen. Drier skin types that are perhaps more sensitive, may prefer the texture and formulation of a physical sunscreen, whereas the lighter texture of a chemical sunscreen may feel more comfortable on oilier or breakout prone skins. For days spent outdoors, a physical sunscreen is possibly best, but a chemical sunscreen may be more appropriate when conducting normal daily activities like work, running errands, etc. With all the options available, there is one that will work for you and if possible, try a sample first to ensure that you are choosing the right product. It’s an important step in our skin care regime with long-term benefits, so it’s worth the effort to make sure you’re using the right product.


Our Recommendations

We have loads of products to choose from within our ranges, regardless of individual preferences or which type of sunscreen you prefer. Click the link below to discover more and we are always here to answer any questions to help you choose the right option.