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With warmer temperatures and sunnier days on the way, wearing sunscreen is more important than ever. Sunscreen protects your skin from harmful UV rays and lowers your chances of taking on sun damage. With so many variations available, it can be difficult to determine what sunscreen is best for you and your skin. We’re here to help you understand some of the key differences between chemical and physical sunscreen so you can keep your skin safe and healthy this season! 

Chemical Sunscreen 

Chemical sunscreens are made up of organic chemical compounds, such as oxybenzone, octisalate, homosalate and more. They act as chemical barriers for UV rays and work beneath the skin instead of sitting on top of it. Chemical sunscreen sinks into the skin quickly and absorbs the UV rays before they have a chance to harm your skin. Because they absorb so quickly, chemical sunscreens are less likely to come off in the water or while sweating. They’re generally a thinner formula than physical sunscreens and spread more easily, requiring less product, although its protective effects don’t last as long and require reapplication more often. The effects of chemical sunscreen set in approximately 20 minutes after application and feel less heavy and greasy on the skin than physical sunscreen. They are, however, known to cause irritation on sensitive skin. 

Physical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreen differs from chemical sunscreen in that it is composed of active mineral ingredients, such zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The formula of physical sunscreen is often thicker as it settles on the surface of the skin to deflect UVA and UVB rays. Physical sunscreen begins protecting your skin as soon as it has been applied and is able to stay effective for longer when exposed to direct UV rays, however it is far more likely to rub off when exposed to sweat or water. Boasting a more substantial shelf life, physical sunscreen is also more suitable for sensitive and acne prone skin. Many physical sunscreens do leave a white cast on the skin, unfortunately, making them less wearable for people with darker skin tones. 

We hope that by highlighting some of the pros and cons of physical and chemical sunscreen that you’ll be able to determine which is right for you and keep your skin healthy this upcoming season.