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Choosing the Right Sunscreen for You: My Chemical Romance Vs Physical Love

When it comes to sun protection, there are dozens of ways to shield your skin, but one of the things that tends to confuse people the most is choosing the right sunscreen for their needs.

Two primary types of sunscreens exist: physical and chemical. Each has its unique characteristics, benefits, and considerations. In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between physical and chemical sunscreens, helping you make an informed choice for your skin.

What are physical sunscreens?

Physical sunscreens, often referred to as mineral or inorganic sunscreens, create a physical barrier on the skin’s surface. They contain active ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, that reflect and scatter UV rays away from the skin.

The benefits of physical sunscreens

  • Broad-spectrum protection
    Physical sunscreens offer broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, making them highly effective at preventing sunburn and skin aging.
  • Gentle on skin
    Physical sunscreens are generally suitable for sensitive skin types as they sit on the skin’s surface and are less likely to cause irritation.
  • Immediate protection
    There is no waiting for physical sunscreens to absorb and work. They provide instant protection upon applications as they create a physical barrier.
  • Longer lasting protection
    Physical sunscreens are less likely to degrade when exposed to sun, ensuring longer-lasting sun protection.

The downsides of physical sunscreens

  • The feel
    The issue most people have with physical sunscreens is how they feel on the skin. They tend to be thicker and require more effort to blend into the skin, potentially feeling heavy, greasy or sticky.
  • Visible residue
    Some physical sunscreens leave a white or chalky residue on the skin which may not be aesthetically pleasing for all users.

What are chemical sunscreens?

Chemical sunscreens contain organic (carbon-based) compounds like avobenzone, octisalate, and octocrylene. These compounds absorb UV radiation, convert it into heat, and then release it from the skin.

The benefits of chemical sunscreens

  • Aesthetically pleasing
    Where physical sunscreens can leave a residue, chemical sunscreens are typically more lightweight or transparent, making them more appealing for daily wear or use under makeup.
  • Suitable for all skin tones
    Chemical sunscreens don’t typically leave a visible residue on the skin, making them suitable for all skin tones.
  • Easy to blend
    Chemical sunscreens are easy to apply and blend into the skin, providing a smoother finish.
  • Suitable for everyday use
    The fact that chemical sunscreens do not have a visible residue and have a better skin-feel makes them preferable for daily use and under makeup

The cons of chemical sunscreens

  • Potential for skin sensitivity
    Chemical sunscreens can cause irritation or allergic reactions for some individuals with allergies or sensitive skin.
  • Wait time
    Chemical sunscreens take some time to become fully effective, usually around 20-30 minutes after application
  • Limited protection
    Whilst many chemical sunscreens offer protection against UVB rays, some may not offer adequate UVA protection without the right combination of active ingredients

How do you choose the right sunscreen for your skin?

The choice between physical and chemical sunscreens often comes down to personal preference, skin type and intended use. You may find you prefer physical sunscreens for outdoor activities (such as a trip to the beach) whilst opting for chemical sunscreens for daily wear or use under makeup.

Regardless of choice, the most crucial factor is consistent and adequate sun protection. This is why we always recommend that the best sunscreen for you is the one you will use regularly and consistently.

Whichever type you choose, be sure to apply it generously, reapply as needed and combine it with other sun-safe practices for the ultimate sun protection.

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The Skin Lab

12th Floor, Morris Towers
149 Wickham Terrace
Brisbane QLD 4000

T: 07 3832 4370