Heliocare sunscreens - Physical vs chemical sunscreen

Sunscreen - Chemical vs Physical

Posted by Gina Russell on

Everyone needs sunscreen all year round. But there's two different categories that these sunscreens fit into. Today we're going to dive into each of them and explain how to choose what's right for you.

So what is sunscreen?

Topical photoprotection is a cosmetic product that is applied to the skin to protect against damage caused by the sun.

What's in it?

Below is an example of an ideal composition, however the majority of standard sunscreens do not incorporate all of these ingredients.

Heliocare sunscreen - Physical sunscreen vs Chemical sunscreen


Mineral Filters

Also called physical or inorganic filters

Heliocare sunscreen - about mineral filters in sunscreen
  • Protect the skin by reflecting and scattering UV radiation
  • Tolerance is good if you use mineral filters of good quality (recommended for sensitive or intolerant skin)
  • Thick consistency: can sometimes leave a white effect and be difficult to spread.

Chemical Filters

Also called organic filters  

Heliocare sunscreen - all about chemical filters in sunscreen
  • Protect the skin by absorbing UV radiation
  • Tolerance depends on the type and quality of the UV filter
  • Transparent on the skin and easier to spread

Breakdown between the two filters
Generally speaking, mineral or physical filters stay on the skin’s surface where they reflect UV radiation, while chemical filters may penetrate deeper into the skin where they absorb the radiation. Many physical filters are in “nano” form: smaller-sized particles which reduce the whitening effect and make for more pleasant formulations (easier to apply and spread, less sticky, …). These nano-particles have limited penetration and are usually coated to reduce irritation potential. While most chemical filters are safe and well-tolerated, mineral filters are especially indicated in children and those with sensitive skin.  

Choose a sunscreen suited to your skin type (dry, normal, combination/oily). Apply it generously and evenly to all exposed areas at least about 15 minutes before exposure. Reapply every 2-3 hours as it can wear off over time and filters can lose some of their effectiveness.   
Ingredients Science Skincare Suncare

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