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physical vs chemical sunscreen

physical vs chemical sunscreen

the difference between physical and chemical sunscreen

There are two main types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. While each one helps protect skin from UV rays, they also each have their own unique properties and benefits.

physical sunscreen

how it works

Uses minerals that sit on top of skin and reflect away UV rays

ideal for

All skin types and conditions, including sensitive; post- treatment SPF

chemical sunscreen

how it works

Uses ingredients that absorb and transform UV rays into heat

ideal for

Most skin types and conditions, active lifestyles


the benefits of physical sunscreen

Physical sunscreen, also called mineral sunscreen, sits on top of skin. Most physical sunscreens leave a white or tinted residue on skin, so it takes a moment for them to sink in and become invisible. A few we recommend trying:

To identify this type of sunscreen, look for the words “mineral” or “physical,” as well as active ingredients like Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide.

physical sunscreen:

  • Helps protect against UVA and UVB rays
  • Starts working immediately upon application – there’s no need to wait before exposing skin to daylight
  • Is generally comfortable for all skin types and conditions, particularly sensitive skin

the benefits of chemical sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens use ingredients that absorb into skin and transform UV rays into heat. This type of sunscreen tends to be popular, not only because it feels light, but it’s less noticeable. A couple we recommend:

chemical sunscreen:

  • Helps protect against UVA and UVB rays
  • Needs time to absorb (15 to 30 minutes) before exposing skin to daylight
  • Comfortable for most skin types and conditions
  • Is typically more water- and sweat-resistant

what sunscreen to use

At Dermalogica, we believe any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen to help protect your skin from UV damage. So, really, it all comes down to which formula you prefer. That’s exactly why we offer a broad range of SPF moisturisers and sunscreens to suit different preferences and lifestyles. To find out which formula is right for you, chat with one of our professional skin therapists, and shop all SPF products here.

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