physical vs chemical sunscreen

physical and chemical sunscreens

Here are facts you need so you can choose the best sunscreen for your skin.

story highlights

  • Physical sunscreen uses minerals that sit on top of the skin and reflect away UV rays.
  • Chemical sunscreen uses ingredients that absorb and transform UV rays into heat.

the difference between physical and chemical sunscreen

There are two main types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. While each one helps protect the skin from UV rays, they also have their own unique properties and benefits. Here are the key differences between physical an chemical sunscreen:

physical sunscreen vs. chemical sunscreen

the benefits of physical sunscreen

Physical sunscreen, also called mineral sunscreen, sits on top of skin. Most physical sunscreens can have a white or tinted residue on skin upon application, so it takes a moment for them to sink in and become invisible. However, newer formulas and technology have been made ultra-sheer to help prevent a white cast or chalky finish. A few we recommend trying:

how to tell if a sunscreen is a physical sunscreen

To identify this type of sunscreen, look for the words "mineral" or "physical," as well as active ingredients like Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide.

more facts about physical sunscreen:

  • Helps protect against both UVA and UVB rays
  • Starts working immediately upon application - there's no need to wait before exposing skin to daylight
  • Is generally suitable for all skin types and conditions, particularly sensitive skin


the benefits of chemical sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens use ingredients that absorb into skin and transform UV rays into heat. This type of sunscreen tends to be popular, not only because it feels lightweight, but it's less noticeable. A couple we recommend:

how to tell if a sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen

If you can't see ingredients like Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide, it's more than likely a chemical sunscreen. They're also typically more transparent than a physical sunscreen.

more facts about chemical sunscreen:

  • Helps protect against both UVA and UVB rays
  • Needs time to absorb (15 to 30 minutes) before exposing skin to daylight
  • Comfortable for most skin types and conditions
  • Is typically more water and sweat resistant


what sunscreen should you use?

At Dermalogica, we believe any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen to help protect your skin from UV damage. So, really, it comes down to which formula you prefer. That's exactly why we offer a broad range of SPF moisturisers and sunscreens that suit different preferences and lifestyles. To find out which formula is right for you, chat to an expert online now and shop all SPF products here.

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