Royal Beauty Blog

Chemical vs Physical Sunscreen in 2023

Image default

Sunscreen – Have you ever wondered a little more about your sunscreen bottle? When it comes to choosing a sunscreen, you might not have thought too much besides the SPF factor, but there are actually tons of other factors that make two bottles of sunscreen completely different. We’re talking about the formulas that go into making these products and today we’re highlighting the differences between chemical and physical sunscreens. Curious? Keep reading to find out more.

What’s the UV index?

Before we get into the nitty gritties of explaining formulas, it’s important to firstly understand what UV radiation is and then what the UV index is. UV rays are split out into UVA and UVB – both are harmful, with the former having an effect on skin’s age, and the latter responsible for sunburn and skin cancer.

The UV index therefore tries to put a measure on these rays from low to extreme levels of radiation. At the lowest level (0-2), it’s not required to wear it if you don’t want to. Anything above 3 though can cause skin damage, so it’s recommended to apply your sun protection. Still confused? Take a read of this helpful guide on the UV index now.

What’s a chemical sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreen is a common formula that essentially works by absorbing all of the sun’s rays that hit your skin. It then turns them into heat before releasing them through your skin. Cool, hey? Whilst sunscreen reactions are very uncommon, you’d probably do well to opt for a physical sunscreen instead if you do have sensitive skin or acne.

Who’s it best for?

This is our go-to choice if you’ve got a combination, normal or dry skin type. Chemical sunscreens tend to have a beautiful lightweight consistency which makes them all too easy to wear.

Our pick?

Try the Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF50+ if you’re looking for a fantastic version of a chemical sunscreen. It’s ultra hydrating with kakadu plum and dragosine in the ingredients too. We particularly love it under our makeup – it’ll never leave a white cast.

What’s physical sunscreen?

Physical sunscreen is another type of formula that’s more accurately known as ‘mineral’ sunscreen.  They are commonly made using either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to protect you from UV rays. A physical sunscreen works very similarly to a chemical one via absorption of rays. The difference is that they also reflect about 5% of UV rays away from your skin.

Who’s it best for?

If you’ve got a sensitive skin type that reacts to everything or acne prone skin, then a mineral is ideal for you. They often have a matte or natural finish which is particularly great if you have oily skin too.

Our pick?

Physical sunscreen leaves zero white cast, and won’t leave you feeling heavy or sticky! Try the Lean Screen Screen SPF 50+ from Ultra Violette for a fine example of a fabulous physical sunscreen. It’s got zero fragrance, so sensitive skin goers rejoice. It’s alcohol free too and packed full of hydrating ingredients that won’t leave you shiny.

So what’s the final verdict?

If you’re tossing up between chemical and physical sunscreen, know that it doesn’t really matter all that much. The important thing is that you wear sun protection and follow other sun safety guidelines like wearing a hat and seeking shade. Both formulas are effective in protecting your skin from the sun, so why not try both and see which feels more comfortable for you.