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Mineral Suncreen

Physical Sunscreen vs. Chemical Sunscreen? Which one is best for you?

Stuck on choosing between physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen for your skin type and issues?

Suntan, pigmentation, redness and itching on the skin are some visible tell-tales of being out and about in the sun for too long. And so, sunscreen plays an essential role in our skin care routine!

Improperly applying the sunscreen- not using enough or just applying when heading equals no protection at all. Also, a common misconception is that if a specific sunscreen works well for your friend, it will deliver similar results for you too!

You should consider the use of sunscreen according to your skin type- be it- oily, dry, combination or sensitive, the one that is comfortable for your skin.

In this blog, you will read:

About sunscreens…

Skin is exposed to different levels of light. Sunscreen is your trusty ally in the battle against harmful UV rays and pollution, along with against visible and near‐infrared radiation. It safeguards your skin against hyperpigmentation, wrinkles or sunspots. It provides a shield from the sun so you can enjoy it while being outdoors.

"Sunscreens have chemicals or minerals or a combination of both that protect your skin from sunlight, including UV light, which is a type of light we can't see. There are different types of UV light, like UVA and UVB."

Best Sunscreen

What is physical sunscreen?

Physical sunscreens aka mineral sunscreen or physical blockers ACTS LIKE A SHIELD which bounce back the damaging UV rays away from the skin.

How to spot a mineral sunscreen?

Check the ‘ingredient section’ labelled on the sunscreen pack. If you find titanium dioxide or zinc oxide listed there, it is a mineral-based sunscreen.

Benefits of Physical Sunscreens:

  • Broad-spectrum sunscreens that offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays from the sun
  • Non-irritating and gentle on the skin, making them ideal sunscreen for sensitive skin too
  • Ideal for acne-prone skin as they are less likely to clog the pores
  • People with redness and rosacea can use these sunscreens comfortably
  • Nourish and protect the skin given its moisturizing effects on the skin
  • Suitable for active people who swim or work out, it offers long-lasting protection

Disadvantages of Physical sunscreen

  • Physical sunscreens are often thicker and heavier on the skin than a chemical sunscreen
  • May leave a white cast on the skin which may be appealing for many!

What is chemical sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreens aka organic sunscreens or organic absorbers ACT LIKE A SPONGE to absorb the UV rays by sinking into the skin. They work by changing UV rays into heat and then releasing that heat from the skin.

How to spot a chemical sunscreen?

Look for chemical ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone labelled in the ingredient panel.

Benefits of Chemical Sunscreens:

Disadvantages of Chemical Sunscreen

  • May irritate people with sensitive skin and those with rosacea (redness and small bumps on the face)
  • May not be appropriate for people with oily skin as it may block skin pores

Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreen

In the battle of choosing the best sunscreen for men or women, there is no clear winner!

Mantra-Listen to your skin! An ideal choice of sunscreen solely depends on your preference, skin needs and requirements, but one thing is sure- Sunscreen should be used consistently without fail every day.

Sunscreens come in different formulations- creams, gels, lotions, ointments, sticks, and sprays delivering a spectrum of choices for sun protection.

6 Expert Tips for Buying the Best Sunscreen for Face:

  1. A non-greasy and lightweight gel-based sunscreen for oily skin is a must. For skin with bumps and clogged pores, prefer non-comedogenic ingredients that will not block the skin pores and cause pimples or breakouts.
  2. If you have sensitive skin and it gets red easily, a mineral-based sunscreen that is gentle and does not rip off or irritate your skin may be the best bet.
  3. The best sunscreen for dry skin should hit a balance by offering hydration without feeling heavy (lightweight) or blocking your pores. A nourishing sunscreen cream is suitable without making the skin oily or greasy.
  4. Look for a tinted sunscreen or matte finish sunscreen that blends seamlessly and adapts to every skin tone, ensuring a flawless finish without any trace of a white residue. They are my absolute favourite because they offer a light, natural-looking coverage, perfect for a minimalist or 'no-makeup' look."
  5. When you are out and about in the sun and want to conveniently apply sunscreen without hassle- go for a sunscreen stick
  6. As per the American Academy of Dermatology- No sunscreen can stop 100% of the sun’s rays. The difference in UV protection between different SPFs (sun protection factor) is minimal (just by a percent!) after SPF 30.

Simply put- SPF 15 blocks 93%, SPF 30 blocks 97%, SPF 50 stops 98%, and SPF 100 shields 99% of UVB rays.

Take Away:

There of plenty of options of sunscreens to choose from! After weighing the pros and cons, tailor your sunscreen selection as per your skin needs and comfort- Gels for oily skin, Creamy ones for dry skin, sunscreen lotions for the body and so on. Prioritize SPF 30 or higher and broad-spectrum protection for not just effective sun defence but also against pollution, infrared rays, and blue light.

Goodbye to sun-induced hyperpigmentation and say hello to an even skin tone!


Q. How to apply sunscreen on face?

Ans. Start with a clean and dry face. Take a sufficient amount of sunscreen and evenly apply it, focusing on all exposed areas at least 15 minutes before stepping out. Don't forget your neck and ears. Reapply every 2 hours to stay sun protected.

Q. Which sunscreen is best for dry skin?

Ans. Moisture loss and compromised skin barrier are the characteristics of dry skin. The best sunscreen for dry skin is one that is hydrating without feeling sticky or greasy to the touch. Look for a nourishing and non-greasy formula that doesn't clog your pores and makes your skin feel soft and protected.

Q. Which sunscreen is best for face?

Ans. The ideal facial sunscreen depends on your skin type. For everyday use, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, tailored to your skin's specific needs.

Q. Does sunscreen prevent tanning?

Ans. Sunscreen helps to shield your skin from damaging UV rays. It lowers the risk of tanning and prevents hyperpigmentation, dark spots and sunburn. Even if you still get tanned, especially with prolonged sun exposure, sunscreen can help to minimize it.

Q. Can I skip moisturizer and use sunscreen? If not, then when to apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer?

Ans. No, you cannot use sunscreen in place of a moisturizer. The role of moisturizer is to hydrate whereas sunscreen protects the skin from harmful UV rays. It will be beneficial if you apply moisturizer before using the sunscreen.

Q. Is chemical or physical sunscreen better?

Ans. As we have discussed in the above articles about both types of sunscreens. All you need to choose the sunscreen is according to your skin type. Both the chemical and physical sunscreen have their advantages and disadvantages.

Q. Is it bad to wear sunscreen every day?

Ans. No, it is not bad to wear sunscreen every day especially when you have to go out in the sun for a longer duration. It is also important to reapply sunscreen every 80 minutes or two hours depending upon the UV exposure.

Comment 1

Cynthia on

At what concentration will tell you that your spf is 30 or 50

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