Most of us already know that sunscreen is likely the most important step in our daily skincare routine to protect us from harmful UVA and UVB radiation that damages the deep layers of our skin cells. However, these days the big debate lies in what kind of sunscreen is best to use.
There are 2 kinds of sunscreens to choose from, chemical or mineral, but what are their differences and how should you be using them?
These sunscreens contain chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone,ecamsule, padimate o,paba, octyl methoxycinnamate, octyl salicylate,phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid,homosalate,octisalate, octocrylene, andoctinoxate that absorb radiation and convert it to heat. Due to the synthetic nature of these ingredients, these sunscreens are known to cause sensitivity and irritation, especially in children.
The good and bad thing is that they are lightweight and absorb easily. However, this isdue to the fact that the size of their molecules are small enough to penetrate our skin (hence the absorption) and potentially cause negative hormonal and biological effects.
AKA physical sunscreens, these sunscreens use active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to reflect and scatter both UVA and UVB radiation so that your body doesn’t absorb them. Because these active ingredients are naturally sourced minerals, they will unlikely cause irritation and are the cleanest choice.
The downside is their thick, chalky consistency which makes them more difficult to spread and absorb because, conversely to chemical sunscreens, the size of their molecules aren’t small enough to penetrate your skin barrier. So, thick and chalky is a good thing when it comes to sunscreen.
When choosing your sunscreen, make sure it doesn’t contain retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, which has been found to cause skin growth and form free radicals in the presence of sunlight.
When it comes to spray sunscreens, stay away from anything with nanoparticles including titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as they can cause lung damage when inhaled. To be on the safe side, stay away from spray sunscreens in general as there is a lack of transparency on the size of the molecules they contain.