Sun protection is crucial for long term skin health, but are all sunscreens really protecting you? For being one of the most important skin care steps, the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens is not common knowledge. Why aren’t brands mentioning which type the product is or educating us on the distinctions? (That’s why we wrote this blog post!)
This is the most popular form of sunscreen available today since chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin, making it easier to apply and avoiding the white cast left behind. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays and turning those rays into heat, which can cause flushing and redness. Also, chemical sunscreens are considered to be longer lasting when it comes to activities that involve sweating or being in the water. The outcome of these products may be more visibly pleasing but, they contain chemical ingredients like oxybenzone (considered a possible endocrine disruptor with potential for cellular mutation and increased cardiovascular disease, as well as environmental disruption according to EWG) that go straight into the bloodstream. It is worth noting that some states like Hawaii and Florida are banning chemical sunscreens as they are not safe for the reefs and the ocean.
Physical sunscreens sit on top of your skin and acts as a physical shield from the UV rays. These sunscreens typically contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which are generally safe according to the FDA. Physical sunscreens typically will not clog pores, are less likely to irritate skin, and is overall better for those who struggle with rosacea or redness. However, physical sunscreens can rub off a lot easier needing more frequent re-application, which can be inconvenient and less effective for people who are caught up having fun in the sun. Recent advances in technology means the slight white cast these sunscreens leave on the skin has been vastly reduced and become more attractive for users.
Choosing the Right Type
Ultimately, the type of sunscreen you choose should depend on the condition of your skin. Those who are looking for more daily use and have sensitive skin should lean more towards physical sunscreens while those who are outside doing physical activities for extended periods of time should consider chemical sunscreens. Whichever product decided to suit you best, remember that sunscreen should be worn everyday to protect your skin from damage due to harsh UV rays.
The Greenery Lab recommended sunscreens:
O’Sum Mineral Multicare Cream SPF 27
- Certified organic
- Physical sunscreen
- Does not leave a white cast
- Controls oil
Zymogen Houttuynia Cordata Ferment Sun Cream SPF 27
- Physical sunscreen
- Features fermented houttuynia cordata as a treatment built in
- Absorbs sebum from pores, sun protection and acne treatment in one product