Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin and absorb UV rays, converting them into heat and releasing them from the body. The main ingredients in chemical sunscreens are avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone. Chemical sunscreens usually have a lightweight, non-sticky formula that spreads quickly into the skin. It’s great to use chemical sunscreens when swimming or to play sports. It usually has a water-resistant formula and requires less product to protect the skin.
Of course, there are some cons to using chemical sunscreens. Some of the ingredients in chemical sunscreens cause allergic reactions and irritate sensitive skin types. In addition, chemical sunscreens take longer than physical sunscreens to start working. It takes approximately 20 minutes after application to get protection. Another con is that many ingredients are needed to get UVA and UVB protection, which means there is a higher chance of irritation with more ingredients in chemical sunscreens.
It’s best to use chemical sunscreens if you are active and want to enjoy swimming and playing sports, as most chemical sunscreens are water-resistant. In addition, if you have a darker complexion, it might be best to use chemical sunscreens because it’s easier to blend out than physical sunscreens, which may leave a white cast. And finally, if you wear makeup, it’s better to use chemical sunscreens as a base since it has a thinner and lighter consistency than physical sunscreens.
Physical sunscreens don’t get absorbed into the skin. Instead, they sit on top of the skin, reflect the sun’s rays, and absorb UV radiation. Some of the main ingredients in physical sunscreens are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Physical sunscreens come in a thicker and heavier consistency than chemical sunscreens. And are known to be less irritating, which is better for people who have sensitive skin. Since physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin, they are considered to be safer to use on babies and on women who are pregnant. The best part of physical sunscreens is that the protection occurs as soon as you apply them! There’s no need to wait for it to start working.
Since physical sunscreens have a thicker consistency, they can be a bit difficult to blend into the skin, and it has the potential of leaving behind a white cast on darker complexions. In addition, physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin, which means that they can rub off easily, which means more frequent reapplication than a chemical sunscreen. However, it is essential to note that you should reapply all types of sunscreen after 2 hours! Physical sunscreen is not an excellent choice for oily or acne-prone skin types and could cause breakouts due to its heavier consistency.
You should use physical sunscreen if you have more sensitive skin as there is a lower chance of skin irritation. And if you don’t mind the thicker consistency and want immediate protection, then physical sunscreen could be the better choice for you. In addition, of course, you should use physical sunscreens on babies and pregnant women because they are gentler on the skin compared to chemical sunscreens.
How to tell the difference
The best way to determine the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens is by reading the ingredient list. For example, if the ingredient list includes titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, it’s a physical sunscreen. But if the ingredients include avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone, then it’s a chemical sunscreen. You can also tell by the consistency of the product. If the texture is thinner and more lightweight, it’s most likely a chemical sunscreen. If the texture is thicker and heavier, it’s a physical sunscreen.