Friday 29 March 2024

Chemical vs Physical Suncream

Understanding suncare is something I feel very passionate about as there is a lot of misinformation out there. Sun damage and photo-ageing are often the reason people want to improve their skin routine, as with most things it's much easier to prevent than cure. A good suncream, proper skin routine and use of antioxidants in your skincare can really help the youthful appearance of your skin and is better for your overall health. 

A major problem caused by sun damage is that the collagen that holds the dermis and epidermis together is one of the first to be broken down by UV resulting in skin movement and flaccidity as we age. This is nearly impossible to repair but pretty easy to prevent. Use a good suncream. 

So what is the difference between a chemical and physical suncream?

Chemical Suncream:

  • This makes up the majority of sunscreens. These penetrate the epidermis to work in and on the skin to absorb the sun's rays before they can penetrate the dermis and cause damage. The chemicals absorb the UV, convert to heat which is then released from the body. 
  • A single chemical often can't do both UVA and UVB protection so they will make a compound of a couple of chemicals. These chemicals are harmful to sea-life and coral - in fact some are banned in certain parts of North America and Australia. 
  • Chemical sunscreens have been shown to cause more free-radical damage (it's not just UV damage that causes free-radical damage but it can be the chemicals themselves), hyperpigmentation and they are more likely to causes sensitivity and prickly head in children.

Physical Suncream:

  • Designed to stay on the surface of the skin and act like a shield, these individual ingredients work effectively against both forms of UV. 
  • Look for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, ideally non-nano (coral and marine safe). 
  • Nano or non-nano refer to the size of the particles - nano is smaller and therefore more is absorbed in through the skin. Absorption of these two is fine, we have zinc in our bodies anyway but you want to maintain safe levels which is why it's good to go for non-nano. 
  • These are ideal for those with sensitive skin and children. Think about nappy rash creams, they often contain zinc as a healer of the skin.
  • Also it's not going to leave yellow stains on your clothes which is an added bonus 

My favourite suncreams are:
  • DoTerra Face + Body Stick - for on the go this is the one that won't leak, works on all the family and even goes on well over makeup
  • DoTerra Face + Body - the cream version of the stick. More expensive so I have this in my bathroom for my own use (and my husband if he ever remembers) to use on my body during the summer
  • Tropic Skin Shade - I use this ever single day, a lovely tinted physical suncream the gives a warm healthy glow to the skin
  • Tropic Skin Shade - this is what I have in the kitchen for the whole family to use
All of these recommendations contain zinc which won't be suitable for those allergic to zinc. If you are allergic to zinc then this is the suncream I recommend from Green People

Image showing the difference between chemical and physical suncream


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