Protecting your skin from the sun’s harsh rays is no doubt important. But there are so many options and it’s so hard to find the right one for you. The two most common types of sunscreen are physical and chemical sunscreens. Physical sunscreens tend to be natural sunscreen. They physically block the UV rays by creating a barrier on top of your skin and filter out any harmful rays.
They stay on top of your skin and offer protection against both UVA and UVB as soon as they are applied. Chemical sunscreens on the other hand are not natural sunscreen and they work by absorbing the UV rays instead. In this article, we will discuss why a physical or natural sunscreen might be a better option for you.
Difference Between Physical or Natural Sunscreen and Chemical Sunscreen
As we have already discussed, physical or natural sunscreen stays on top of your skin. On the other hand, chemical sunscreen is absorbed into your skin. The chemical sunscreens absorb the harmful UV rays while it is absorbed into your skin and then convert the UV rays into heat which is then released from the body.
Physical sunscreens act as a barrier on top of your skin and reflect the sun’s harmful rays instead. The active ingredients in chemical sunscreens include Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Oxybenzone, Octisalate, and Oxybenzone which create a chemical reaction using the sun’s rays. No chemical reactions are involved with natural sunscreens.
How to Identify Physical or Natural Sunscreen?
If you want to identify physical or natural and chemical sunscreens in real life, remember that chemical sunscreens tend to be thinner while physical sunscreens tend to thicker and whiter. Chemical sunscreens spread more easily on the skin and can be easily absorbed. While UV filters can be used alone on sunscreens, they can also be synergistically used in light breathable formulations alongside chemical filters to produce very high-speed non-irritating sunscreens.
What Is in A Physical Sunscreen?
So now you know that physical or natural sunscreen sits on top of the surface of the skin and then block and scatter UV rays. They do so by using mineral filters. The FDA currently states that only two sunscreen agents, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are considered safe and reliable mineral filters and these are the most common filters used in sunscreen. Mineral or physical sunscreen is known as sunscreens of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
These mineral sunscreens shield you from the sun by sitting on the top of the skin and physically blocking harmful rays, unlike their chemical counterparts that act by absorbing harmful rays. Like the chemical sunscreens, you should wear at least 30 SPF daily and reapply often for a mineral formulation. It’s common practice to reapply your sunscreen every two hours, especially after your swim and sweat.
Benefits of Natural Sunscreen
There are many benefits to using a physical or natural sunscreen over a chemical one. Following are some of the benefits of using a physical sunscreen.
- Physical sunscreen offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
- Physical sunscreen is safe to use on babies as well as for use during pregnancy.
- You don’t have to wait after the sunscreen is applied for it to work, the protection starts as soon as it’s applied.
- Physical sunscreen is less prone to irritate sensitive skin
- Physical sunscreen is better for those likely to suffer from heat-activated skin conditions such as rosacea.
- Physical sunscreen has a longer shelf life so you won’t have to buy it too often.
- As physical sunscreen is thicker and whiter than a chemical sunscreen and thus more visible, you can easily notice where it has been applied or if it has been rubbed off.
Is Physical Sunscreen Better?
We already told you all the positives of physical or natural sunscreen above. In contrast to physical sunscreen, chemical sunscreen has an increased chance of irritation for sensitive skin. And you also have to wait at least 20 minutes after applying it to work. So, you can’t go out in the sun right after applying it. Any heat-activated skin conditions will be activated because chemical sunscreens work by radiating heat. So, if you have rosacea-prone skin it would be better to avoid chemical sunscreens. It can also clog pores and exacerbate acne if you have acne-prone skin.
When you have acne-prone skin it is of utmost importance that you choose the right products. The right sunscreen won’t make your skin break out; it will keep your skin protected instead. Physical or natural sunscreen won’t irritate your skin or make your acne worse, as opposed to chemical sunscreens. If you have sensitive skin, natural sunscreen will be no doubt better for you. It’s also better for you if you don’t like to wait around and want to get out into the sun as soon as possible; we are all in a hurry sometimes. You can reduce your wait time by using a natural sunscreen instead of a chemical one.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that physical sunscreen might be chalky and might drip away with your sweat. Physical sunscreens also don’t tend to be water-resistant. They can also be more moisturizing and whether you like it or not depends on your personal preference. Some physical sunscreens might be difficult to blend into the skin fully. But there are definitely options available on the market that will have less of a white cast and give off a smoother and even appearance.
Is Physical or Natural Sunscreen Safe?
Zinc oxide and Titanium Dioxide are considered a safe part of sunscreen and skincare by the FDA and dermatologists. In reality, doctors recommend zinc oxide as an active ingredient for those with some health or skin disorders when buying sunscreen.
It is advisable to use sunscreens with mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for consumers who have concerns about hormonal disorders, especially for children. Natural sunscreen or physical sunscreen is definitely a safer option for people who have irritating, acne-prone skin or some kind of heat-activated skin condition.
However, not all zinc oxide containing sunscreens are purely mineral-based. Some are a mixture of minerals and chemical active ingredients. The active substances in a formula can be found in the packaging of the product. Please verify the drug details before you buy other products that claim to be “natural” or “mineral” when you buy your physical or natural sunscreen. This will help you avoid harmful chemical ingredients in your sunscreen.
If you are not sure if the sunscreen is right for you, we recommend you acquire a sample of the sunscreen you want to buy. You can do a patch test on your wrist or a part of your face to see how it works on your skin and whether it makes you break out or if it is irritating on your skin.
No matter which type of sunscreen you prefer, whether it is chemical or natural sunscreen, remember that it is recommended you use at least 30 SPF every day and reapply routinely. Physical sunscreens are a great option if you have easily irritated skin. We definitely recommend that you try it out next time you are buying sunscreen!