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13 Nov

Physical v Chemical Sunscreen Facts

the facts about sunscreen

The biggest anti-ageing trick up our sleeves? Sunscreen. We don’t just write about wearing it, we actually wear it — every single day. Here, all the information you need to choose the right product  and the formulas that have our highest stamp of approval.

If you think of sunscreens in terms of – the thick, white pasty formulas of your youth and the new, disappear-into-your-skin, moisturiser-like formulas on the market today—then you already have a basic understanding of how physical versus chemical sunscreens differ.

Physical, often called sunblock, contains active mineral ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide (which are naturally broad spectrum, meaning they protect against both UVA and UVB rays) and works by sitting on top of the skin and deflecting the sun’s rays.

So here’s the deal, new physical formulas are micronized and go on much easier than the earlier ones. Chemical sunscreens, which penetrate the skin and absorb the sun’s rays like a sponge, remain the most common because they are cosmetically more elegant to use. Whereas physical sunscreens work as soon as you put them on (though rub off more easily), chemical ones require about 20 minutes to fully sink in. Chemical sunscreens may be more irritating to sensitive skins, since multiple ingredients have to be combined to get broad spectrum coverage.

As for which formula is better, it all comes down to personal preference. In saying that we can all agree on one thing, the use of a high factor sunscreen forms the cornerstone of cosmetic treatment, sunscreens reduce photo-aging, wrinkles, rosacea and pigmentation.


Chemical Sunscreens

La Roche-Posay Anthelio AOX Daily SPF 50 Sunscreen
This formula combines the best of broad spectrum protection with antioxidant protection, so you get the full protection on both fronts — preventative as well as repairing free radical damage from past sun damage. This protects against long wave UVA, and most importantly it is light on your skin. This means you are more than likely to apply it!


La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 AOX Serum 16796


Dermalogica Pure Light SPF 50
This moisturising sunscreen is packed with brightening peptides and hyaluronic acid making your skin look dewy instantly and prevents damage.


Dermalogica PowerBright TRx Pure Light SPF 50



Physical/Mineral Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50 Face
For maximum facial sun protection with La Roche-Posay’s innovative Cell-OX Shield XL, this sunscreen manages to feel like a super light water-texture, much like your favourite light weight summer moisturiser. Apply well and often!


La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid


Skin Ceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
It’s hard to find a mineral sunscreen that’s sheer on all skin tones, and this sunscreen is a mineral formula: It’s a mix of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, the latter of which is the mineral to look for in sunscreens. It is lightweight, is broad-spectrum and has a high SPF of 50, no white residue and most importantly, it works.


Skin Ceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50



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Sarah Henderson

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