PHYSICAL SUNSCREEN? CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN? WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE AND WHICH IS BEST?
Sunscreen can come in two major flavors: physical blockers and chemical absorbers. They differ in their ingredients and mechanisms of action. Physical blockers use minerals as their active ingredient, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and work by reflecting the UV rays away from your skin. Chemical absorbers use organic chemicals as their active ingredient, such as oxybenzone and avobenzone, and work by absorbing the UV rays and re-radiating the energy out as heat. Physical sunscreens tend to be less irritating for sensitive skin, yet may leave a white cast to your skin on application. Chemical sunscreens tend to be easier to apply and don’t leave a white cast, yet may be more irritating for sensitive skin. Questions have also been raised about the environmental effect of chemical sunscreens potentially running off in ocean waters and bleaching coral reefs, and certain countries and islands have restricted its use. Also, recent articles showed that chemical sunscreens are absorbed into our blood stream. So, if you are concerned, you might choose a physical/inorganic sunscreen. Also, for babies, dermatologists in general recommend using physical sunscreens.