With a wide variety of daily sunscreens on the market, it can be challenging to find the right one. From all-physical mineral sunscreens to chemical formulations, how do you know which sunscreen is the best choice for your skin?

One of the best ways to keep skin healthy and looking good is using daily sun protection and limiting your sun exposure. Sunscreens help shield you from the sun's dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays in two ways. Some work by scattering the light, reflecting it away from your body. This type of sunscreen is usually referred to as a physical sunscreen (or mineral). While others, often referred to as chemical sunscreens use active ingredients that absorb UV radiation before it’s able to penetrate the skin.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that up to 90% of skin changes associated with aging are likely caused by a lifetime's exposure to UVA rays.

all-physical broad spectrum sunscreen

There are two types of UV rays that breach the ozone layer and cause damage to the skin. UVA rays penetrate the layers of the skin, causing free radicals and premature aging. Research has shown that ultraviolet A rays (UVA) also increase your skin cancer risk. While UVA rays don't cause sunburn, they penetrate deeply into skin and cause wrinkles.

UVB rays cause tanning and burning on the upper layers of the skin. UVB rays will usually burn the superficial layers of your skin. They play a key role in the development of skin cancer.

Protect Skin From Sun Damage

Below we’ll explain some of the differences between all-physical sunscreens vs chemical, along with some tips to help you select the right sunscreen for your skin.

First off, according to the American Academy of Dermatology when selecting a sunscreen ensure it offers the following: Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays), SPF 30 or higher, and water resistance. In addition to wearing sunscreen daily, follow these sun safety tips.

What’s the difference? Physical sunscreens vs Chemical sunscreens

Physical sunscreens

Physical sunscreens (often referred to as mineral sunscreens) use UV filters that reflect, scatter and block the sun’s rays.

  • Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are the only physical UV filters approved by the FDA for sun protection.

  • All-physical UV filters block from both UVA and UVB rays.

  • Titanium Dioxide is a naturally occurring mineral with a distinct, white pigment. In skincare and cosmetics, titanium dioxide is used for its UV-reflective properties and for its ability to remain stable when exposed to UV radiation. Unlike many chemical UV filters, titanium dioxide does not degrade in the sun.

  • Zinc Oxide is another mineral that can be found in nature, but some zinc oxide is manufactured synthetically. Like titanium dioxide, it physically scatters and reflects UV rays, preventing them from reaching the surface of the skin. Zinc oxide’s ability to block different types of (short and long) UV rays makes it one of the most effective sun protection products on the market at fighting the sun’s rays.

  • Usually physical sunscreens are the least likely to cause a reaction on the skin, so they are often a good choice for those with sensitive skin.

Product we suggest: New & Improved Triple Duty Plus Sunscreen SPF 35+ offers a 3-in-1 advantage: 100% all-physical formulation with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection, sheer tint for an even glow, and a new, advanced lipopeptide complex to help skin look firmer and smoother.

Chemical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens use active ingredients that absorb UV radiation, preventing them from penetrating the skin.

  • Most chemical UV filters protect from either UVA or UVB, but not both. While all-physical UV filters block from both UVA and UVB rays. However, some widely available sunscreens contain both physical and chemical ingredients to provide broad spectrum protection.

  • Some of the most common active UV filter chemical ingredients include: Para-aminobenzic acid (PABA), Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octinoxate, Oxybenzone.

  • According to Environmental Working Group certain chemical ingredients have a higher rate of allergic reactions as well as may affect certain hormones like estrogen.

  • Over time, some chemical filters may slowly break down and degrade in the sun, releasing heat.

If you have concerns about sunscreens, it’s always a good idea check with your doctor or dermatologist on the best sunscreen for your health and lifestyle.

Protect Skin From Sun Damage

It’s important to remember that sunscreen is a necessary addition to your everyday skin care routine —especially on overcast and cold days because the sun’s rays are still present and strong. It’s never too late to begin protecting your skin! An added bonus to protecting your skin is preventing premature aging.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to stay in the know about new products, offers and daily skin inspiration. If you liked this article please consider sharing it.

Revercel combines physician-strength ingredients to prevent and correct at the cellular level – long before the signs of aging skin are visible.  

Revercel products are developed and tested by a Dermatologist and a Preventive Medicine specialist in Campbell, CA.