The Difference between Mineral (physical) and Chemical Sunscreen

The Difference between Mineral (physical) and Chemical Sunscreen

This is the reason why Sunny Skin was born.... from working in the Professional Beauty industry as a facialist & analysing thousands of faces & skin types here in Australia I became extremely concerned with the different types of sun damage (dermal thinning, pigmentation & premature ageing) that I was asked to treat. The common denominator was over exposure to the strong Aussie elements, SPF became the most vital component of any skincare routine. 

I found that there are a some huge and questionable differences between physical and chemical sunscreens.

What is Physical / Mineral Sunscreen (SPF)? Physical SPF, also known as mineral, sits on top of the skin and reflects the sun’s rays without penetrating the deeper layers of the skin. 

The active constituents are made of Zinc Oxide and or Titanium Dioxide.

Physical SPF PROS 

  • Physical sunscreen works immediately after application.
  • Physical sunscreen is photostable (it does not decompose when the UV rays hit the skin). 
  • Suitable for all skin types including the most sensitive. 
  • Zinc also helps your skin's immunity & healing when inflammation is present. This makes Physical sunscreen best for those with Sensitive and Acne conditions.

Physical SPF CONS 

  • Because these a mineral based they are not invisible & are known to create a white cast. Modern technology has significantly improved the texture to an almost invisible state. 

What is Chemical Suncreen (SPF)? Chemical SPF absorbs into the skin and then absorbs UV rays, converts the rays into heat, and releases them from the body. 

Chemical SPF PROs 

  • Chemical sunscreens perform better in consumer tests, where one pays attention to how long they protect the skin from UV rays, 
  • Chemical SPF is completely invisible.

Chemical SPF CONS

  • Testing showed that from just a single application it increased the blood levels of the chemical actives found in in chemical SPF for days & even weeks
  • Can be highly irritating
  • In order to be effective chemical sunscreens must be applied to dry, naked skin and require approximately 20 mins for absorption. (It is not recommended to apply anything underneath Chemical sunscreens.) 
  • Potential adverse health effects with long term use. 
  • Most are NOT photostable (it DOES decompose when the UV rays hit the skin). 

When it comes to actual UV protection, both physical and chemical sunscreens are able to adequately protect your skin. 

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