Suncare Protection: Chemical vs. Physical

With so many different sunscreens out there, we don’t know which ones to use. Let me first explain that there are two types of sunscreens, chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens protects our skin by absorbing the sun’s ray while physical sunscreens work by reflecting the sun rays back into the air.

Chemical sunscreens are often lighter and easy to apply without leaving much residue. However, there has been toxicity concerns about chemical sunscreens such as allergies, photo-sensitivities, hormonal disruption, and increased oxidative damage because chemical sunscreens penetrates into the skin and causes a chemical reaction. Some of the chemicals used are: 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC), octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC), padmate o, PABA, Octocrylene, benzophenone-4, and avobenzone.

A more natural alternative sunscreen are physical sunscreens which use minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that acts like mirrors on the skin to reflect the sun’s rays. Since these minerals sit on the skin, there are less instances of allergic reactions to sunscreens especially for people with sensitive skin. In the past, however, physical sunscreens usually feels heavy and leaves a white residue on the skin.

I have found some physical sunscreens that are light and does not leave any white residue on the skin.


SkinCeutical’s Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50- This paraben-free formula is lightweight and leaves a matte finish on the skin. I got this bottle from a Spa that carries this line for their skincare for $30. You can also find them online. I found them on that offers free shipping.



Neutrogena’s Pure & Free Liquid SPF 50– I found that this product was similar to SkinCeutical’s Sheer Physical UV Defense. It had the same lightweight feel and coverage, yet at a more affordable price at $11.99. I got this from Target.  I also liked their Pure & Free Baby line of sunscreen which uses the same ingredients but  it was very gentle.


* Make sure to rub these sunscreens in very well especially if you are going into water at the beach or pool. If it’s not rubbed in well, it will turn white in water. Overall, I have sensitive skin and love that these products are not heavy and does not irritate my skin.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *