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With the weather heating up, it’s easy to get confused about which sunscreen is the right one for you. We all know that protecting your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays is an essential part of maintaining skin’s health and youthful appearance, but do you choose a physical blocker or a chemical blocker. Both types are effective and each has its inherent benefits and potential drawbacks. Today, I’ll explain how physical and chemical sunscreens work to protect your skin and help you decide which solution is better suited for you.

Physical Sunscreens

Physical sunscreens work by shielding your skin from UV rays. This is achieved by covering the surface with small particles. Ingredients used in physical sunscreens include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These ingredients deflect the UV rays and prevent their penetration into your dermis. Physical sun filters can protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. In order to provide full spectrum coverage, sunscreens must include zinc oxide which protects against a broader spectrum of ultraviolet wavelengths.  

A major drawback of using sunscreens with physical sun filters is that they can leave white streaks and a heavy residue when applied. However, some brands use new technology that incorporates micronized or nanoparticles making the formulations appear invisible on the skin, while still providing ample protection against UVA and UVB rays. This new technology can be found in brands like [Link Removed], which incorporates zinc oxide in a very pleasing formulation. It has become one of my personal favorites.  

Chemical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens use synthetic agents such as avobenzone, Tinosorb S and Tinosorb M, Octylcrylene along with [Link Removed]as active ingredients. Rather than coating your skin like a physical sunscreen, the active agents in chemical sunscreens are absorbed into your skin. Instead of blocking UV rays from the top of your skin's surface, they absorb the UV radiation before converting and releasing it as energy. Chemical sunscreens can offer broad protection against both UVA and UVB rays. What is important is in selecting one that does offer protection against both, generally achieved with a combination of filters.

Though generally well tolerated, chemical filters may irritate some skin types. The newer ones such as Tinosorb M and Tinosorb S, Mexoryl XL and Mexoryl SX are less likely to do so. As well, dermatologists often recommend sticking with a physical blocking sunscreen in very young children.

Which Sunscreen Is Better?

Both physical and chemical sunscreens can effectively protect your skin from UV radiation. Both have inherent strengths and potential weaknesses.  

The important thing is to identify your skin type and any skin conditions you may have. Then, select a sunscreen that protects your skin from a wide spectrum of UV rays. Whichever you decide is right for you, it’s more important that you get into the habit of applying sunscreen liberally on a regular basis.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed].

Pharmagirl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.


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