Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Physical Sunscreen vs. Chemical Sunscreen

So, what's the difference between a physical sunscreen and a chemical sunscreen?

Physical: Reflection
A physical sunscreen sits on top of your skin. Physical sunscreen is also called mineral sunscreen. It's not absorbed into the skin and reflects both UVA and UVB radiation through the internal metals it contains. Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are the minerals in physical sunscreens. 

Mineral sunscreens are labeled with an SPF number which tells you the level of protection you get from the burning UVB rays and the deeper penetrating UVA rays. This type of sunscreen is safe and ideal for people with sensitive skin and kids. Burt's Bees Chemical Free Sunscreen is a physical sunscreen. Mineral sunscreen tends to be thick and can leave a whitish film on the skin. They take a good effort to rub onto the skin.


Chemical: Absorption

A chemical sunscreen absorbs UV radiation. Avobenzone, Benzophenome, Mexoryl, Oxybenzone and Menthyl Anthranilate are some examples of chemical sunscreens. 

Chemical Sunscreens are labeled with an SPF number, such as 30, which lets you know the level of protection from the burning UVB rays. Additional UVA ray protection makes them Broad Spectrum Sunscreens. Some people can be sensitive to chemical sunscreens and develop skin irritations such as an itchy rash, especially those with skin conditions such as, eczema.

There are other problems with chemical sunscreens. They can break down in the sun's radiation. They can also mimic hormones when absorbed by the skin. 

Both types of sunscreen offer good protection from UV rays. The key to them working well, is applying them often. Aim for reapplication every 2 hours. Those who burn easily can apply every hour.


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