You know that it’s important to wear broad spectrum sunscreen every day, but did you know there is another category you should be paying attention to? Each option has its own unique pros and cons, and knowing the difference can save your skin this summer and beyond.
The two most common types of sunscreen are chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen. Physical sunscreens create a barrier on the skin that filter out UV rays, while chemical sunscreens absorb and scatter the sun’s harsh UV rays.
Physical sunscreens are sometimes called sun blocks. They use mineral-based ingredients, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, to block UV rays. Physical sunscreens work by staying on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin.
Pros of Physical Sunscreens:
- Offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
- Safe for use on babies and during pregnancy.
- You skin is protected from the sun as soon as it’s applied; no need to wait before heading outdoors.
- Less likely to irritate sensitive skin and better for those prone to heat-activated skin conditions such as rosacea.
- Longer shelf life.
Cons of Physical Sunscreens:
- Can rub off, sweat off and rinse off easily—more frequent application is required.
- Can appear white or chalky on the skin, especially on darker complexions or in photos.
- Can feel heavy under makeup or increase perspiration.
- Can be thicker, which will require more effort to rub in
- Needs to be generously applied to be fully effective.
Chemical sunscreens, also sometimes called organic sunscreens, contain chemical compounds that absorb UV rays. These chemical compounds include formulas like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone. These chemicals change UV rays into heat, which is then released from the skin and scattered.
Pros of Chemical Sunscreens:
- Thinner and spreads on the skin like a lotion, making it ideal for daily use.
- Less product is needed to protect the skin.
- Easier to use with other products like peptides and enzymes, giving you skincare boost in a single product.
Cons of Chemical Sunscreens:
- Comes with an increased risk of irritation and stinging both on parts it comes in contact with, including skin and eyes.
- Many ingredients are required to create both UVA and UVB protection and higher SPFs, which create additional opportunities for irritation and discomfort.
- Only becomes effective approximately 20 minutes after application.
- Associated with an increased chance of redness for rosacea-prone skin types because it changes UV rays into heat which can exacerbate flushing.
- Can clog pores and increase breakouts on acne prone skin.
Regardless of what kind of sunscreen you choose to use, the most important factor is that you use it regularly. Dr. Doppelt and his skilled staff can help you choose a sunscreen and customized skin care regime to keep your skin in great shape and prevent future damage. For more sunscreen tips, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of Sunscreen Myths Busted.