Physical vs Chemical Sunscreens: What’s the Difference?

So maybe you have a full-fledged skincare routine in place that you enforce every single day without fail. You pat on your serums and ampoules, eat your leafy greens, and even use a sheet mask frequently. Now, what if we told you that all your efforts are doing absolutely nothing for your skin? This is not a drill. If you’re missing out on one crucial step in your skincare routine, it could reverse all the benefits that your skin was getting from all the other steps you’ve focused on so diligently. If you frequently read our blogs, you have probably already figured out what we’re talking about (I mean, it’s also mentioned in the title, but you get the point). Sunscreen– that one single step that somehow everybody seems to hate. In spite of all the layers of skincare and makeup, we lovingly pat onto our skin, just the thought of applying sunscreen is enough to put off most of us. For all the negative rep this product gets, it’s important to understand why we absolutely cannot do away with sunscreens in our lives. If this article motivates you to be more consistent with using sunscreen, our job is done.

So what exactly is it about sunscreens that make them so indispensable? First things first, the sun is not all that bad (you already know that). If it weren’t for the sun, life on earth would be impossible. Plus, don’t we all love sunny days? However, the sun isn’t really our skin’s best friend in the long run. Although some sun exposure is beneficial for us to absorb Vitamin D, any more than necessary is actually detrimental for our skin. There are two types of rays that the sun emits: UVA rays and UVB rays. We tend to be more familiar with UVB rays as these rays cause the most common side effects of sun exposure: tanning and sunburns. UVA rays, though more discreet, have far more harmful effects than UVB rays. These are the rays responsible for chronic effects such as age spots, premature aging, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. A good sunscreen is crucial to protect your skin from both these types of rays.

One aspect of sunscreens that most of us aren’t aware of is the kind of ingredients that go into it. Sunscreens can either be physical or chemical. What this actually means is, the primary ingredient used for the purpose of blocking the sun’s rays can do so through a chemical process or a physical process. Although technically physical sunscreens are also chemicals and chemical sunscreens also form a physical barrier, they are still referred to as chemical and physical sunscreens for the sake of keeping things simple.

Physical Sunscreens

Physical sunscreens also referred to as physical blockers, are those sunscreens that protect the skin by blocking and reflecting the sun’s UV rays. They use minerals as the primary component to block UV rays. These minerals are able to reflect the rays off the skin. The two most commonly used minerals in physical sunscreens are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Many people prefer mineral-based physical sunscreens as these tend to be gentle and non-reactive on the skin, making it ideal even for those with sensitive skin.

Titanium dioxide is a naturally occurring mineral that has a distinct, white pigment. This is what gives many sunscreens a whitish cast when applied to the skin. Its advantage is that it does not degrade in the sun and is stable when it is exposed to UV rays. Titanium dioxide is able to provide full-spectrum protection against all UVB rays as well as most UVA rays, though not all.

Zinc oxide has a special advantage over titanium dioxide in that it is able to provide full protection against the entire spectrum of sun rays, both UVA as well as UVB. It is the only ingredient approved by the FDA that offers full-spectrum protection.

The Suntique I’m Safe for Sensitive Skin contains titanium dioxide. With an SPF of 35 PA +++, it provides good protection while being gentle on the skin. Its formula is moisturizing with ingredients like aloe vera and Centella Asiatica.

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Another special mention in this category is the Klairs Illuminating Supple Blemish Cream SPF 40 PA++ 40ml. Although it is not a sunscreen in itself, it is a BB cream with an SPF of 40, which is more than many regular sunscreens can boast of. It contains both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, offering protection from UVA and UVB rays.

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Chemical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the UV rays instead of reflecting them. The rays cause a chemical reaction with the ingredients which converts the UV rays into heat. This heat is then released from the skin.

There are a wide variety of chemical sunscreen ingredients. While some of these are stable, some of them can also be irritating to the skin. It’s best to do some research before going for a chemical sunscreen. Korean sunscreens that use chemical sun blockers go through rigorous testing to ensure that they are safe for all skin types to use, so you don’t have to worry when opting for one. An advantage offered by chemical sunscreens is that they go well under makeup. They are much easier to apply and don’t have any white cast either. Due to the problematic nature of many chemical sun blockers on their own, Korean sunscreens combine physical and chemical sun blockers in the right proportion to offer safe and complete protection.

The It’s Skin UV Away Perfect Sun Block 50ml is a perfect example of such a sunscreen. With chemical ingredients like Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate and physical ingredients like zinc oxide, it is a great choice when it comes to a sunscreen that offers maximum protection while also treating the skin well. The lightweight texture is easily absorbed by the skin while aloe vera extracts help keep the skin hydrated and moist.

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Now that you know the basics and more, go ahead and make sunscreen your new best friend. The results are going to be so worth it, not just in your daily life but also in the long run. You can find all the sunscreens mentioned in this article on Maccaron. Read here more -: For Frequent Skin Queries & Daily Skin Care Tips, Join Maccaron Community


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