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Chemical vs Physical Sunscreen

Is the sunscreen you’re using actually safe for your skin? What most people don’t know, is that there are actually two different types of sunscreen. One being chemical, and the other physical. You might see these physical sunscreens being labelled as “mineral”, “natural” or “organic”. Now what you might be wondering is “what’s the difference?” Simply put, chemical sunscreens use inorganic chemicals to absorb the harmful rays of the sun, whilst physical sunscreens block or deflect them.


We all know that we’re supposed to wear an SPF every day to protect our skin from UV rays. UV rays can burn our skin (ouch!) and also prematurely age it, causing fine lines and wrinkles. Even incidental sun exposure like a walk to the bus stop, hanging the washing on the line or sitting in a sunny spot for a quick coffee can let those nasty rays damage our skin. Additionally, UV rays are just as strong in the snow or on a cloudy day. So we should all be adding an SPF to our daily skin care regimen. But now we know that there are two kinds… so which should we choose? Chemical, or physical?


Chemical sunscreens take about 30 minutes to absorb and become effective, are often very greasy and many have a tendency to clog pores (hello breakouts). What most people don’t know, however, is that studies have shown that chemical sunscreens probably aren’t that good for our skin, or our bodies as they’re absorbed. Craig Downs from the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory and JC DiNardo wrote and extensively researched report on the potential dangers of oxybenzone. Oxybenzone and avobenzone (which is in the same family of benzenes) are the most common active ingredients in chemical sunscreens as they’re powerful in absorbing UV rays. However, the research has shown chemicals like oxybenzone and avobenzone are rapidly absorbed by the skin into the body, and can have an estrogen-like impact increasing breast cancer and endometriosis risks according to this study. Additionally, when some of the commonly used UV filtering chemicals break down, a Franco-American study has shown that they break down into carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting products. Most worrying is the fact that both oxybenzone and its sibling chemical octocrylene are suspected carcinogens.


So what does all this mean? In short, it means that our chemical sunscreens are possibly just as dangerous for our skin as the sun they’re protecting us from. Physical sunscreens on the other hand are usually made with zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide, both minerals found in the Earth, along with carrier ingredients like soothing shea butter and aloe, which are filled with valuable, skin-loving ingredients. Organic sunscreens like this tend to last longer on the skin, and many brands have all sorts of formulations targeted for sensitive or acne-prone skin, for babies or children, and even some that contain moisturisers and insect repellents. The organic compound zinc oxide does wonders for the skin. Not only does it deflect those damaging UVA and UVB rays, it also aids in wound healing, is a mild astringent that clears up acne and even has anti-aging properties. Almost every living organism relies on zinc as a mineral that supports the immune system, digestive system, brain function and skin health. Physical sunscreens are certainly better for people with sensitive skin, or even issues like dermatitis and rosacea as the ingredients tend to be soothing, as opposed to the harsh irritants in chemical sunscreens.


So it’s certainly time to lather up, as skin cancer rates are still climbing by more than 1% per year. Protect yourself and your family from the sun with a safe and effective sunscreen. Check out VeganicSKN | 100% Organic Private Label Australia for some incredible, broad spectrum organic sunscreens for every skin type.



(PDF) Why Evaluate the Sunscreen Active Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3) for Carcinogenicity and Reproductive Toxicology or Consider it Unsafe for Human Use? (researchgate.net)

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