What\\\'s better, a chemical or physical sunscreen?

What\\\'s better, a chemical or physical sunscreen?

19 May 2016

What's better, a chemical or physical sunscreen?

Experts advise that we apply sunscreen daily, particularly if we’re spending a lot of time outdoors. But with so many types to choose from, how do you know what’s going to offer you the best protection?

Sunscreen falls into two main categories: chemical and physical. Not sure what the difference is? Read on to find out.
Chemical sunscreen
Chemical sunscreen (sometimes known as organic sunscreen) works by absorbing UV rays and releasing the energy as heat, to prevent your skin from becoming damaged. Look for formulas with ‘broad spectrum’ on the label to ensure you’re protected from both UVA (rays that cause cancer) and UVB (rays that cause sunburn). 

Bear in mind however that it can take up to 20 minutes for chemical sunscreen to sink in so apply it before you head outside and remember to keep reapplying throughout the day.

For those with sensitive skin, chemical sunscreen may cause a reaction. If you’re prone to breakouts, look for bottles that say ‘oil-free non-comedogenic’ on the label as these formulas won’t clog pores.
Physical sunscreen
Physical sunscreen (sometimes called ‘sunblock’) contains minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which physically block the sun’s UV rays from penetrating your skin. They may be labelled as ‘mineral’ or ‘natural’ sunscreen in the shops.

Unlike chemical sunscreens, you don’t have to wait for physical sunscreen to absorb as it starts working straightaway – which is handy if you always forget to apply it before you head out. 

Physical sunscreen formulas can be fairly thick so be sure yours doesn’t get rubbed off throughout the day. 

Because they don’t get absorbed by your skin, physical sunscreens can be used on all skin types including those with sensitive skin. They also tend to provide better UV protection which is why most children’s sunscreen formulas tend to be physical.
Which is best?
Chemical sunscreens are great if you want sheer sun protection, while physical sunscreens are better for children and those with sensitive skin.

Do you have any other tips to prevent sun damage? Send us a tweet with your best ones.

Image credit: TravnikovStudio/ Shutterstock.com