Sunscreen: Which Is Better for Skin Health – Physical or Chemical?


We all want adequate protection from the sun. Yes, some people might want tans, but generally, being in the sun causes a plethora of issues, which is why we have sunscreens.

Over the years, sun protection has evolved from staying indoors, and wearing really large hats to finally having sun creams/lotions with special components called SPF. These creams, popularly known as sunscreens, have been able to protect us from the sun so that we won’t have to suffer the harsh effects.

Dermatologists, cosmetologists, and brands have developed different formulations of the best sunscreen for the skin. These research and formulations have left us with two very popular classes of sunscreens. Namely:

  1. Physical
  2. Chemical

In this article, we will be giving brief explanations of these two and considering which is safer and healthier for your skin. Let’s start this together.

Which is Best for the Skin: Physical or Chemical

Before we decide which one is best for you our dear reader, we would like to first tell you about these two.

1. Physical Sunscreen

Also known as mineral sunscreen (because of the mineral UV filters it contains), it works by creating a physical barrier on the skin, thereby preventing the sun’s rays (UV rays) from getting to it.

It helps to protect you from issues like hyperpigmentation and wrinkles caused by exposure to the sun. It contains Zinc oxide and titanium oxide, both recognized as safe minerals by the American Food and Drug Administration.

People with acne, sensitive skin, and even children can use this type of sunscreen. However, The only problem with mineral sunscreen is that it usually leaves a white cast, especially for darker tones. Regardless, there are skincare brands that have successfully created sunscreens that have the right amount of SPF/other ingredients and still blend in well.

This sunscreen is not water-resistant, and a few drops of water or sweat can wash it out and leave you exposed. It is advisable to reapply the sunscreen every two hours.

2. Chemical Sunscreen

This type of sunscreen does not create a barrier but absorbs UV rays instead. It contains ingredients with chemical UV filters that absorb the rays before they get to your skin.

Chemical sunscreens are created for absorption, which makes it easier for them to blend in and leave no white cast like the other guy. However, there has been a lot of debate about their safety, especially their ingredients. Regardless, there is still a lot that needs to be uncovered about it.

As for sensitivity, chemical sunscreen is not advisable for people with sensitive skin or skin conditions like melanoma and rosacea. Because of the chemical components, some of which are known to irritate the skin, it is best not to use it to avoid inflammation.

Which One is the Best

We cannot outright tell you which one is better for your skin. This is because each skin is unique with its issues. You should also understand that both types of sunscreen have their advantages and disadvantages. Just pick the one that is better for your skin. What you should know is that both of them are safe for use.

In the case of people with sensitive skin or irritable skin problems, it is advisable not to use chemical sunscreen. However, you might still find chemical sunscreen brands that do not irritate the skin. All you need to do is do a diligent search for them.

For those who want to use physical sunscreen but are worried about the white cast, some brands are dedicated to creating sunscreen for all skin shades. If you are also conscious about avoiding products with too many chemicals, then a physical option is the best for you.

The Important Thing to Note

First of all, do not avoid sunscreen. Instead, avoid the sun as much as you can. It’s nice for a tan, but in the long run, the effects of the UV rays are not so nice. Use sunscreen, wear an adequate covering, and avoid direct sunlight or when it’s too hot.

Secondly, before any sunscreen from any brand, be sure to check what it contains. Ensure the ingredients used are safe for use.

Finally, pick a sunscreen that works well for your skin and let it help you fight the UV rays.

Olivia Turner
Olivia Turner
Olivia is a high school teacher with a deep passion for health and beauty. She's been teaching for over two decades and now is planning for her retirement. She loves to share practical beauty tips, skincare routines, remedies, and how to maintain natural beauty.

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