Chemical vs Physical Sunscreen

Wearing daily SPF on the face is essential in preventing and protecting against sun damage, premature aging, and skin cancer. Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms.

This series reviews the difference between chemical and physical (mineral) sunscreens, details the importance of choosing a clean SPF, and discusses some high quality product recommendations for every day wear and under makeup.


Part 1 | Chemical vs Physical Sunscreen

Part 2 | How to Choose a Daily Face SPF 

Part 3 | Face SPF Product Recommendations | Coming Soon


Chemical Sunscreens

Most common on the market   |   Require about 20 minutes to fully sink in   |   Tend to be more irritating to the skin   |   Work by penetrating the skin and absorbing the sun’s rays like a sponge   |   Include the following active chemical ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate or octinoxate   | These chemical filters each protect against either UVA or UVB rays, not both  |  Therefore they have to be combined within product formulations in order to be considered broad spectrum

Some of these chemicals have been found in mother’s milk and are potential hormone disruptors   |   There is also concern that some release harmful by-products as they break down, potentially causing cell damage that may lead to skin damage and skin cancer   |   Out of these chemicals, Oxybenzone has one of the highest penetration percentages and acts like estrogen in lab studies   |   Oxybenzone has high rates of allergic reactions.


Physical (Mineral) Sunscreens

Contain the active mineral ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide   |   Work by sitting on top of the skin and deflecting the sun’s rays   |   Work as soon as you put them on   |   Tend to rub off more easily   |   Naturally broad spectrum (protect against UVA and UVB rays)   |   Stable in sunlight and provide strong sun protection

Do not usually contain potentially harmful additives   |   Little if any evidence that zinc or titanium particles have advanced absorption into the skin   |   Zinc oxide can provide greater protection from UVA rays than any other sunscreen chemical approved in the U.S


Part 2 | How to Choose a Daily Face SPF 

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