When it comes to sunscreen, there’s a wide array of products that you have to choose from. Keeping yourself from the direct effects of the sun is extremely important, especially if you’ve got injuries of scare.
Thankfully, there’s sunscreen to help you out.
Sunscreen products are divided into two broad categories: physical and chemical.
Physical sunscreens are comprised of a wide array of active minerals, such as titanium oxide and zinc oxide. These minerals work by sitting directly on top of the skin in order to deflect and block the entrance of the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun into the skin. Over the years, physical sunscreens have also come to be known as physical blockers.
On the other hand, chemical sunscreens (also known as chemical or organic absorbers) are those sunscreens which contain various organic and carbon-based compounds, such as octisalate, avobenzone, oxybenzone and octinoxate. Rather than deflect the sun’s rays from the skin, chemical sunscreens work by creating a chemical reaction that converts these rays into heat and then releasing the resultant heat from the skin.
So how do they compare with each other?
Pros of physical sunscreen:
- Physical sunscreen offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays it’s got a naturally broad spectrum and as such, it is able to offer versatile and effective protection.
- Physical sunscreen is also quick. As soon as you apply it, it begins to offer protection immediately. You don’t have to wait a second.
- Physical sunscreen also lasts much longer when in direct UV light. However, you should also know that when working and engaging in physical activities that can cause you to sweat (or get your skin wet, at the very least), it tends to last less long.
- With physical sunscreen, you have a lesser chance of getting irritation on the skin. This basically means that physical sunscreen is the preferable choice for people who have sensitive skin.
- Also, if you’re the type of person with heat-activated in (for instance, if you’re got redness or rosacea), it is recommended that you go for physical sunscreen due to the fact that it deflects the heat and energy given off from the sun, thereby leaving your skin free and devoid of heat residue.
- Physical sunscreen has much better shelf life than chemical sunscreen
- Physical sunscreen is less likely to be pore-clogging. This means it is also the preferred choice or people who have blemish-prone skin types.
Cons of physical sunscreen:
- Physical sunscreen might also leave a white-like cast on your skin, so some formulas might not be compatible with darker skin tones
- Under makeup, it might be too chalky
- It can create an occlusive film, which will result in higher perspiration while you’re engaging in physical activities.
- It can be thicker and as such, you’ll need more effort to rub it in.
Pros of chemical sunscreen:
- Chemical sunscreen is thinner and you won’t need much effort to have it applied
- Less amount of it is also required to offer protection from the sun
- The formula is easier to add other treatment ingredients, so it could offer other skin benefits
Cons of chemical sunscreen:
- It is possible for chemical sunscreen to cause an increase in the amount of brown spots on your body and discoloration due to a higher internal temperature of the skin. When skin is overheated, it can make brown spots worse. This is a major disadvantage of chemical sunscreen, actually.
- Once applied, chemical sunscreen will still require about 20 minutes before is starts working.
- With chemical sunscreen, you have a much higher chance of developing irritation and stinging. It is especially worse in the case of people who have dry skin and a damaged moisture barrier. This increased probability is due in no small part to the multiple ingredients that are combined in order to achieve the broad spectrum of protection from UVA and UVB rays.
- If you’re a person with a sensitive skin type, you’ll find that the higher the SPF (such as various formulae of SPF 50 or higher), the higher the chances of you suffering skin irritation.
- The protection offered by chemical sunscreen gets quickly used up, especially when in direct ultraviolet light. This means that for you to get fully protected, you need to reapply on a regular basis.
- As stated earlier, chemical sunscreen changes UV rays into heat. This mean that for people with skin types that are prone to redness and rosacea, there is an increased chance of irritation. Excess heat can exaggerate flushing, thereby leaving the sin in a less-than-ideal state.
- If you’ve got oily skin, chemical sunscreen also has the probability of clogging your sin pores.
- If chemical sunscreen drips into your eyes from sweat or mixture with water, it can also cause stinging
With this, it’s pretty obvious that physical sunscreen tends to be more effective (although chemical sunscreen isn’t bad as well). Another fact to note is that physical sunscreen is not absorbed by the skin. This is a huge advantage as you don’t get any unwanted or potentially harmful substances in your body.
The Effects of Chemical Sunscreen on Wound and Scar Healing
Applying scar-friendly sunscreen is an awesome way to heal wounds or scars. However, make sure to be careful. SPFs of 30 or more work best, and many products offer SPFs of 50-150. This is one reason why chemical sunscreen might not be the best or wounds as many of the chemicals that comprise it might have irritation and stinging effects which could trigger allergic reactions and exaggerate the wound as well. For better sunscreen performance, go for physical sunscreen with zinc oxide. Zinc oxide has been known to have awesome healing properties and it could help your wound or scar as well.