Sunscreen 101: Physical vs. Chemical

Urban Body Blog

With summer looming, all we seem to think about are beach days and sunset nights. But before we can catch a glimpse of those beautiful rays, there’s one important tool we need before we can step out into the sun: sunscreen.

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Even on cloudy days, the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays can penetrate the epidermis, causing premature aging and sunspots. That’s why choosing the right sunscreen for your body is so important. But with seemingly endless choices like waterproof or water-resistant, face or body, lotion or mist, not to mention a multitude of different SPF levels, it’s hard to figure out which one to go with. So here’s a tip when you’re in that drugstore wavering between SPF 4 and SPF 60: there’s only one type of sunscreen you should be using. And chances are, it’s not available in the aisle.

Physical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreen, or physical blockers, is a non-toxic substance that uses ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are natural minerals that have been grounded into fine powders. Physical sunscreen works by deflecting the sun and blocking those harsh UV rays from damaging the body. Try adding some into your moisturizer or foundation to easily incorporate it into your morning ritual and ensure your skin is protected. Being that physical sunscreen is so pure, only a little amount is needed for you to get the right amount of protection.

Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens are what you would typically find at the drug store. This type of formula is combined with 12 different chemicals, some of which have not been FDA approved. Chemical sunscreens can produce free radicals that can cause irritation and damage to the skin. They’ve been proven to interfere with hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid, which have been linked to breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

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That’s why our medical estheticians always choose physical sunscreen since it’s a non-toxic, specially formulated product that offers safe protection. We swear by the Sunforgettable line by Colorescience, a skin care collection that’s infused with physical blockers designed to make using sun protection like the Sunforgettable Brush part of your daily routine. Use the Setting Mist throughout the day to replenish the skin with ingredients with Vitamin E and SPF, particularly before and after spending time in the sun.

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Another must have item is the Osmosis Shade, a facial moisturizer/sunblock hybrid with SPF 30. Made with revitalizing ingredients such as aloe and coconut oil, it nourishes and rejuvenates the skin. This can be applied right before your makeup.

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We are exposed to the sun all year round; therefore, sun protection is an essential no matter what season you are in. Our medical estheticians are a helpful guide for finding the best products for your skin type, so contact us any time. We’re happy to help!

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