Physical or chemical sunscreen: which one should I go for?

Choosing and finding the right skincare products may sometimes cause a lot of time consuming and financial wastage! More tiring, when the new skincare products range bought from the stores sometimes leads to frustration! In this case, when the product does not correspond to your skin needs and profiles!

First, the bad reaction that it caused to your skin (i.e, irritating, redness, itchiness). Second, the texture of the new product does not go well with your skin profile (greasy, super thick moisturizing layers, those extra shiny look!).. Ok,now.. let’s jump specifically into our main topic, the sunscreen! 

Let us look at the differences between types of sunscreen available based on its ingredients and effects. So, then it would help you later on to make the right decision. There are two types of sunscreen; chemical sunscreen and physical, or mineral sunscreen. Now, what’s the difference?

Dr. Zeichner explained that chemical sunscreens are carbon-based compounds, also known as organic molecules. This sunscreen absorbs into the skin and then absorbs UV rays, converts the rays into heat, and releases them from the body. But somehow, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the active ingredients found in chemical sunscreen can cause allergic reactions. These ingredients namely; oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), dibenzoylmethane, cinnamates, and benzophenones.

Other ingredients like PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) have also been shown to cause allergic reactions but rarely found in sunscreen. Hence, for some people with sensitive, dry, rosacea or eczema, chemical sunscreen might not be the right choice for you.

Unlike physical sunscreen, chemical sunscreens are more lightweight in texture and spread easily on top of the skin. Plus, it also absorbs more quickly into your skin like lotion instead of forming a barrier on top of the skin. Chemical sunscreen also does not give those extra moisturizing effects and “white cast” look (which can be annoying for some people). Therefore, making this type of sunscreen more preferable among people with oily skin.  

And if you are among those with rosacea, eczema, sensitive or dry skin, physical sunscreen is the best option for you! Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the common active ingredients found in physical sunscreen. The best part about physical sunscreen is that, it does not irritate and cause allergies to your skin. Plus, physical sunscreen also provides extra moisturizers to your skin, which would be  beneficial for those with weak skin barriers like dry and sensitive skin. Now, whether you opted for either chemical or physical sunscreen, the most important things is to make sure you look on these label:  

  • Broad spectrum (protects from both UVA and UVB rays)
  • Fragrance-free
  • Noncomedogenic (won’t clog pores)
  • Oil-free
  • Paraben-free
  • SPF of at least 30 or higher

But for Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore, SPF 30 is just enough! Whoaa.. what long reading about sunscreen huh?  

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