We know that it can sound complicated, but the difference between physical and chemical sun filters is actually quite simple:
Physical sun filters sit on the skin’s surface to form a protective barrier and reflect damaging UV rays.
Chemical sun filters, on the other hand, absorb UV rays and transform them to harmless wavelengths of heat before they can harm the skin.
Shortly put: Both physical and chemical sun filters are effective. However, chemical sun filters can be more beneficial to e.g. oily or breakout-prone skin types, as the formula will absorb into the skin, whereas physical ones stay on the surface.
In truth, your choice of sun filters comes down to choosing the one you’re actually going to use – because continuous use is what really makes the difference, when you want to protect your skin against UV damage.
Match your sunscreen with your skin type
Many tend to believe that most sunscreens and their formulas are interchangeable – as long as they contain protective filters, they’re good, right? Actually, there’s a bit more to it.
Though the product’s ability to protect your skin should be your main concern, it can make perfect sense to investigate the remaining ingredients to make sure that the product will solely enrich your skin.
For example, oily and breakout-prone skin can benefit from choosing a lightweight formula that won’t clog or congest pores.
Likewise, sensitive skin types should opt for fragrance-free formulations with mainly natural ingredients to avoid potential reactions from UV exposure.
At woods_, we’re always mindful of both the skin and our environment when formulating our products. Therefore, none of our sunscreens contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, as these ingredients are assumed to potentially harm overall health and coral reefs. And these are risks we don’t wish to test.
Take your lifestyle into account
You should always take your lifestyle into account when choosing your sunscreen. Are you very active, do you use makeup, or do you spend a lot of time in the sun? These are all factors that matter when browsing the internet for just the right sunscreen.
Unfortunately, many opt out of sunscreen due to the fear of it ruining their makeup. If you’re familiar with this concern, we’d advise you to choose a sunscreen with a lightweight consistency that’ll leave a breathable layer without casts or white residue.
The same goes if you’re very engaged in sports, as a light consistency will help you avoid a greasy feel or the sunscreen running on the skin.
What SPF should I use?
As a rule of thumb, you can never choose an SPF that is ‘too high’, in terms of protection.
A sunscreen’s SPF indicates its level of protection, and which one you should choose therefore depends on what conditions it’s supposed to protect your skin from. If your plan is to lay in the sun all day, we recommend you opt for SPF50.
If your sunscreen on the other hand is meant for daily use without excessive sun exposure, SPF30 should be sufficient. What’s really essential is that you apply it the right way and reapply it throughout the day.
An all-around sunscreen that does the job? Reach for woods_
Natural ingredients packed in a fragrance-free formula that enriches the skin. If you’re looking for the sunscreen that’ll keep your skin protected, healthy, and nourished, let’s introduce you to woods_ SPFs.
With broad-spectrum, chemical sun filters, the skin is effectively protected against UVA and UVB rays while the lightweight, antioxidant-rich, and non-sticky formula leaves the skin silky-soft and with a dewy finish.
No white casts, no greasy consistency – simply protected and nourished skin left thankful.
What's the Difference Between Physical and Chemical Sunscreen? by J. Timmons, medically reviewed by C. Wightman, 2022.
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