Know Your Sunsreens: Chemical vs. Physical

27 June 2018


In our last blog, we have covered the differences between three types of UV Rays, how they affect the skin and why it is important to use SPF products (click here to read: Skincare Basics: UV Rays and SPF). In this blog, we will dive a bit deeper into sunscreens.

There Are Two Types of Sunscreens: Chemical and Physical

The main difference between chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens is the way they block UV Rays.

Chemical Sunscreen

Most of the sunscreens you can buy over the counter are Chemical ones. They work by absorbing the UV Rays into the skin. Containing certain chemical ingredients, chemical sunscreen will create a chemical reaction with UV Rays and turn them into heat.

To allow chemical ingredients to fully bind with the skin, Chemical Sunscreen usually takes about 20-30 minutes before it becomes fully effective. That is the reason some SPF products require you to apply 20 minutes before you go into the sun.

Physical Sunscreen

A Physical Sunscreen uses ingredients like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. Their natural state is white. This is what you see most cricketers wear. A Physical Sunscreen works by reflecting UV Rays from the skin at the point of contact.

Since it doesn’t need to wait for the ingredients to bind with the skin, a Physical Sunscreen provides immediate protection and a complete block.

For Clients With Pigment Concerns

Due to the fact that chemical sunscreen pulls the UV Rays into the skin rather than deflect, it is not good for clients with pigment concerns. As this will still activate melanin, the pigment in the skin that is responsible for tanning of the skin exposed to sunlight.

So to treat pigmentation, you need physical sunscreen to give you an immediate and complete block to avoid melanocytes stimulation, the activation of melanin-forming cells.

Sunscreen We Use at WPR Beauty

Most product houses haven’t adjusted their formulations, so clients generally don’t want to wear a Physical Sunscreen because it’s thick, greasy, heavy and white. At WPR Beauty, we use Image Skincare. They are have patented their formulas so that their physical sunscreens are ultra-sheer, lightweight, and great to wear. With built-in broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection, they provide ultimate protection and prevention.

Looking for Personalised Skincare Advice?

Call 01277 633907 to book a No Fee No Obligation skin consultation! We will assess your skin condition and provide you with professional advice on how to look after your skin. Your therapist will also answer any questions you may have.