Chemical vs Physical sunscreen

So who knew sunscreen wasn't just sunscreen.

What we do know is it's the essential step in your daily skin routine because it's the best anti-ageing product. It protects from UV rays that cause cancer but also age the skin quicker and cause sun spots.

What you might not have known is there are two different types of sunscreen.

They pretty much do the same thing but in very different ways and you might find the one you've been using is just all wrong for your skin.

So let's break it down.

Chemical sunscreen

This is the more commonly found of the two and is the type of sunscreen found in most foundations.

It absorbs UV rays before they get down to the deeper layers of the skin – being the dermis and epidermis – which is where sun damage is done.

Most will absorb UVA (causes ageing) or UVB (causes burning) rays but some can do both. These ones have a more complex combination of ingredients within the chemical sunscreen to achieve it.

The main ingredients to look out for in a chemical sunscreen are avobenzone, octylcrylene, octisalate and oxybenzone.

Some chemical sunscreens can make our skin more susceptible to damage from free radicals - environmental factors like pollution - that break down collagen in the skin. Collagen is what keeps our skin looking plump and firm and let’s face it, we need all the skin protection we can get as we get older.

Because of this, other ingredients added include Vitamins A and C which protect against those free radicals.

You must apply chemical sunscreen onto clean skin so it should be the first product you use after cleansing.

It also takes about 20 minutes to absorb before it’ll start working so apply it and then stay inside. Perhaps have a cuppa and breakfast or finish the rest of your beauty routine.

One of the downsides is it can cause pigmentation and you will need to reapply often as contact with the sun limits its powers and breaks down its effectiveness.

Physical sunscreen

This one reflects the UV rays off the skin rather than absorbing them. Basically it stops the UV rays penetrating the skin in the first place. Think of it as a barrier or shield between the sun and your skin.

The main ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium oxide, protecting from UVA and UVB rays.

It absorbs instantly so you can step outside straight away. Because it contains zinc oxide it is a little thicker. 

The older versions used to leave a while pigment on your face but we've come a long way since then, so there should be no concerns about looking like a ghost in your Insta pics.

If you suffer from pigmentation or have sensitive skin, this is the sunscreen you should choose.

It’ll be the last step in your beauty routine, going on right before your makeup. You don't have to apply it as often unless you go for a swim or work up a sweat.

Remember, it's never too late to start using sunscreen so get on the bandwagon!

Sunscreens that contain broad spectrum are even better as they protect against UVA and UVB rays.

I totally understand this can be a complicated topic so if you have any questions or concerns, or need some more info, please let me know.