Are all sunscreens created equal? Chemical vs. Physical

Are all sunscreens created equal? Chemical vs. Physical

How did I know if my sunblock is a physical or chemical sunscreen and what is the difference?

There are two types of sunscreens. Those that absorb UV Rays (chemical) and those that bounce, reflect or scatter the damaging UV Rays  – A & B – Physical.  The best kinds of sunscreens are referred to as Broad Based sunscreens. Why?  Because they protect you from both kinds of damaging UV Rays and often offer water and sweat resistance.  Chemical sunscreens are put on first, under your makeup or daily lotions and absorb harmful rays and Physical sunscreens are applied last and reflect damaging rays. Another reason we love them. If you forget your chemical, you need to wash your face and start all over. Physical – being put on last – just gets put on if you forget.

How can you tell what kind of sunscreen you are using?  Here is an easy way.

Look for some of these chemical names and beware, some of the danger they can often present.

CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS – which are put on first under makeup or daily lotions, absorb into the skin and therefore absorb UV Rays:

~Oxybenzone, which is the best UV A protector in this category, however, it has limits in skin penetration.

~Avobenzone, which has high penetration, however, it also has a high rate of allergic reaction.

~Homosalate, which disrupts the hormone estrogen and has been known to release harmful by products.

PABA – probably the most common, however, sensitive people beware ….as it can often be an irritant.

Hence the name Chemical, as chemical sunscreens have just that, a lot of chemicals in them.


PHYSICAL SUNSCREENS – our personal favorite and should be yours.  Why?  Well, first of all, they often have options of sweat and water resistance with a longer life span, meaning you do not have to reapply as often during the day.

How do you recognize them?  You will often see these two main ingredients:

~Zinc or Titanium.

They protect us from both harmful UV A & B Rays, where chemical often just protect us from the A rays. They even come in most mineral makeups now like Jane Iredale’s line, to offer a smoother looking complexion, at that same time as offering you vital protection.

Physical Sunscreens BLOCK, REFLECT, or SCATTER the rays for full protection and have little to no sensitive reactions on the skin or harmful penetration.

So next time you “block up” to hit the sun, get that longer lasting protection on, for younger, longer lasting beautiful skin!


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