The difference between Chemical and Physical Sunscreens

You likely already know the role sunscreen plays in your skin care routine. Sunscreen helps protect us from overexposure to the sun’s damaging rays, which can contribute to fine lines and wrinkles, signs of premature aging, and skin cancer. Regular use of a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB coverage) sunscreen has been shown to reduce the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer and melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer.

The key difference between a chemical and physical sunscreen lies in how they block UV rays. Physical (mineral) sunscreens sit on the surface of your skin and act as a shield, while chemical sunscreens sink into your skin and act more like a sponge, absorbing the UV.

Physical and Mineral Sunscreens

Physical sunscreen

Physical sunscreens, more commonly known as mineral sunscreens, work by creating a physical barrier on the skin that shields it from the Sun’s rays.

These sunscreens deliver broad-spectrum protection by reflecting UV radiation away from your skin. They also help ward off UVA-related skin damage, including hyperpigmentation and wrinkles.

Mineral sunscreens can also help block UVA rays that penetrate through windows, which can cause pigmentation and breakdown of collagen. That’s why it’s important to wear sunscreen every day, even if you don’t plan to go outside.

Most mineral sunscreens, including the Noosa Naturals Sunscreen range are formulated with zinc oxide and titanium oxide, two ingredients recognized as safe and effective by the FDA. Zinc oxide sunscreens are often recommended for people with skin sensitivities, including acne, and are gentle enough to use on children. Mineral sunscreens are mostly available in formulas designed for both the face and body.

The Noosa Naturals range of Organic and Natural sunscreens are available for the face and body with the facial sunscreens containing a light, naturally derived tint from Iron Oxide to reduce any white cast.

Chemical sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens don’t sit on the skin or block rays. Instead, they feature active ingredients that absorb UV rays before your skin can soak them up. These chemical UV filters include:

  • oxybenzone
  • avobenzone
  • octisalate
  • octocrylene
  • homosalate
  • octinoxate

Physical and Mineral Sunscreens

Much of the debate about chemical sunscreens relates to the ingredients themselves. The same ingredients that absorb so well may pose health concerns for some.

Ingredients found in chemical sunscreen

As single chemicals tend not to be broad-spectrum, meaning they only protect against either UVA or UVB rays, chemical sunscreens are often formulated using a mixture of ingredients to optimize UV defence. Common ingredients found in chemical sunscreens include ecamsule, bemotrizinol, octyl methoxycinnamate [2].

Antioxidants are also frequently found in chemical sunscreens, helping to provide additional protection against photodamage from exposure to environmental pollutants and UV radiation.

Ingredients found in physical sunscreen

Physical sunscreens, also known as mineral or natural sunscreens, comprise active mineral ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that create a physical barrier to reflect sun rays from the skin.

Physical and Mineral Sunscreens

Formulated with 100% organic and natural ingredients including high strength antioxidants to prevent free radical damage, the Noosa Naturals Sunscreen range is a hydrating, everyday physical (mineral) SPF sunscreen range using sustainably sourced ingredients such as Sunflower Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil, Hyaluronic Acid and Grape Seed Oil. The Noosa Naturals sunscreen range will leave your skin feeling nourished, hydrated and enroute to beautifully glowy skin!

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