What is physical sunscreen? What is chemical sunscreen? Why should I care? It’s Raging Rouge rewind time! I originally wrote about this topic two years ago. In 2010, the heated debate over the effectiveness and safety of chemical sunscreen rages on. Confused? Keep reading!
In recent years, chemical sunscreens have come under fire. Some are claiming the chemicals in the formula break down more quickly than originally estimated, leaving your skin unprotected much sooner than you would think. Therefore, a chemical sunscreen with an SPF 30 is not the same as a physical sunscreen with an SPF 30. Others claim that the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens (like Oxybenzone and PABA) not only irritate skin, but can cause allergic reactions and generate free radicals that hasten skin aging!
So what’s the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens? A physical sunscreen contains active ingredients like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, which actually reflect UVA and UVB rays off of the surface of the skin. Incredibly effective, physical sunblocks are the preferred choice of those who spend an entire day in the sun. They also tend to not blend into the skin as easily as a chemical sunscreen, which is why lifeguards are often seen sporting a nose slathered in white cream. A chemical sunscreen contains active ingredients that absorb into the skin, and absorb damaging UVA and UVB rays, rendering them harmless. The catch with chemical sunscreen is that you must apply it approximately 1/2 hour prior to exposure, or you are unprotected.
So… what’s your take on the subject? What kind of sunscreen do you use, and why? Let’s chat about it in the comments!