Sunscreen is an indispensable part of your skincare routine, whether it be summer or winter, or whether you’re outdoors or indoors. A variety of new terms related to sunscreen like sunblock, broad-spectrum, chemical sunscreen, physical sunscreen, mineral sunscreen and the like may have made it a tad bit confusing for you to select the right one for yourself. Worry not, here, we will make it easier for you to understand the difference between mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen.
Mineral Sunscreen Vs Chemical Sunscreen
Mineral sunscreens also referred to as physical sunscreens, comprise UV filters that sit on the surface of your skin, blocking the sun’s rays from penetrating the skin’s surface. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the most common mineral filters. This type of sunscreen is specifically recommended for those with acne-prone or sensitive skin.
On the other hand, chemical sunscreens contain UV filters that specialise in transforming UV rays into heat after being absorbed into the skin’s surface. Some of the most commonly used chemical filters are avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate. Chemical sunscreens tend to be comparatively lighter and even transparent in certain cases. Although they are favoured by several skincare enthusiasts, they aren’t the most appropriate for those with sensitive skin.
Chemical Sunscreen Vs. Physical Sunscreen
The below illustration on chemical sunscreen vs. physical sunscreen gives you a peek into their basic differences.
|Physical Sunscreen||Chemical Sunscreen|
|Stays on the surface of the skin||Gets absorbed into the skin|
|Work immediately when applied||Thin consistency|
|Reflects UVA & UVB rays||Converts UV rays into heat|
|Prone to wearing off easily||Enables skincare ingredients to be added|
Now that we have discussed the salient differences between physical vs chemical sunscreen, let’s talk about physical sunscreens in some detail.
How Do Physical Sunscreens Work?
As discussed previously, physical or mineral sunscreens, with ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, prevent UVA and UVB rays from entering through the surface of your skin. They can be applied over other skincare products.
Pros Of Physical Sunscreens
1. Suitable For Sensitive Skin
The ingredients that mineral sunscreens are made of – zinc oxide or titanium dioxide – are known to be safe for sensitive skin.
2. Physical Sunscreen For Oily Skin
The formula used for physical sunscreen is non-inflammatory and non-comedogenic, proving to be perfect for those with acne-prone skin. What’s more, if the active ingredient in your sunscreen is zinc oxide, it may even help in improving your acne condition. Hence, physical sunscreen for oily skin and physical sunscreen for acne-prone skin are a must. However, that doesn’t mean physical sunscreen for dry skin is unsuitable.
3. More Efficient Sun Protection
These sunscreens serve as a physical barrier that prevents the sun’s rays from penetrating into the surface of your skin. This is why several dermatologists consider physical sunscreen to be a better choice over chemical sunscreens, although research is required to support the claim.
Cons Of Physical Sunscreen
1. Unfavourable Texture
The thick texture of physical sunscreens is often a deterrent, especially when it needs to be applied under makeup.
2. Will Possibly Leave A White Cast
Physical sunscreens are known to leave a white cast for at least the first few minutes of its application. This is especially true for those with a deeper skin tone. Modern formulas often introduce a pink tint to it for the purpose of neutralising the white cast.
Top 3 Best Physical Sunscreens You Can Take A Pick From
Here is a list of 3 best physical sunscreens that you can select from.
1. La Shield Fisico SPF 50+ & PA+++ Mineral Sunscreen Gel
This dermatologically tested 100% physical sunscreen is devoid of chemical filters and is powered with SPF 50+ and PA+++. It offers excellent photo protection from UVA and UVB rays, both. It provides long-lasting protection from UV-induced skin damage like redness, sunburn, ageing, pigmentation, and ageing as it is water resistant. The gel formulation ensures that it doesn’t leave a white cast and is perfectly suitable for all skin types.
2. The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 With Antioxidants
As evident from the name, the mineral sunscreen is blessed with the goodness of SPF 30, along with a host of other benefits like hydration, anti-irritant, and antioxidants. Apart from zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, it is also a non-comedogenic formula that is extremely lightweight and suitable for all skin types.
3. Qurez Mattifying Mineral Sunscreen with SPF 30
Embalmed with PA+++ and SPF 30, the sunscreen is also one of the most in-demand among those who spend long hours in front of the computer, protecting you from blue light that is harmful for your skin. The product is free of chemical filters, parabens, phthalates and artificial fragrances. What’s more, it comprises natural ingredients like aloe vera, sea buckthorn fruit extract, Vitamin E, and vegetable glycerine. This ensures that the product not only protects you from the sun but also contributes to overall skincare.
Carrying forward with the physical vs. chemical sunscreen debate, let’s talk a little bit about chemical sunscreens.
How Does Chemical Sunscreen Work?
Chemical sunscreens allow UV light into your skin and, once absorbed, the chemical in the sunscreen initiates a chemical reaction in which the UV is converted into heat. This heat dissipates from the skin and the sunscreen starts functioning for what it is meant to.
Pros Of Chemical Sunscreen
1. Transparent Formula
The formula of chemical sunscreen is typically transparent and gel-like, and they don’t, fortunately, leave a white cast on the skin.
2. Easy To Wear
Chemical sunscreens are lightweight formulas of a gel or spay-like consistency that can be easily worn below layers of makeup. To top that, they also offer some skincare benefits like a natural-looking radiance.
3. Suitable For All
Is chemical sunscreen good for oily skin? Yes, it is suitable for all skin types.
Cons Of Chemical Sunscreen
1. Less Effective Than Physical Sunscreens
The difference in the way they work defines the degree of their effectiveness. While physical sunscreens don’t allow UV rays to enter through the skin’s surface, their chemical counterparts enable the sun’s rays to penetrate through the skin before converting them into heat. This difference in the way they work makes chemical sunscreens considered a little less effective than physical sunscreens. If you’re still using a chemical sunscreen, make sure you’re using one with an SPF of more than 30 to make the most of its benefits.
2. May Have Negative Environmental Effects
Certain ingredients, specifically oxybenzone, in these sunscreens, are relieved to have adverse effects on the reefs in the oceans over the long term.
Q. Is physical or chemical sunscreen better?
A. The difference in the way they work defines the degree of their effectiveness. While physical sunscreens don’t allow UV rays to enter through the skin’s surface, their chemical counterparts enable the sun’s rays to penetrate through the skin before converting them into heat. This difference in the way they work makes chemical sunscreens considered a little less effective than physical sunscreens.
Q. Do physical sunscreens cause acne?
A. The ingredients that physical sunscreens are usually made of – zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, are non-comedogenic in nature. This implies that they do not cause inflammation or acne. In fact, physical sunscreens may prove to be effective in treating acne.
Q. Chemical vs. mineral sunscreen – Which of these is suitable for sensitive skin?
A. Physical or mineral sunscreen is considered to be more suitable than chemical sunscreen for sensitive skin.
Q. Is chemical sunscreen safe for pregnancy?
A. It is advisable that you use physical sunscreens over chemical sunscreens while you’re pregnant.
Q. What are the chemical vs. physical sunscreen ingredients?
A. While titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the primary ingredients in physical sunscreen, oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate, among others, are an integral part of chemical sunscreens. Wondering “how to know if a sunscreen is chemical or physical”? The ingredients list printed on the sunscreen packaging will tell you all about the type of sunscreen it is.
Several experts favour physical sunscreens over their chemical counterparts, although there are no definite conclusions that can be drawn. As the hot debate between physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen rages on, use the one that best suits you in preventing tanning. And, oh, don’t forget to wear one even when you’re indoors!
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