Tag Archives: Physical sunscreens

Sunscreen Active Ingredients Explained – Vine Vera Reviews

You know that you are supposed to use sunscreen every single day even during those months where the sun is scarce. Using a sunscreen protects your skin against damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Damage can be in the form of sunburn, sun spots, premature wrinkles or even skin cancer. However, what you may not know is what exactly the active ingredients in sunscreen are or how they protect your skin against all of the aforementioned types of damage. We explain here what the active ingredients in sunscreens really do.

In a document that gives consumers important information about sunscreens, the Environmental Protection Agency states that “[b]road spectrum sunscreens often contain a number of chemical ingredients that absorb UVA and UVB radiation.” In addition to chemical compounds that provide sun protection, there are also physical compounds that work a bit differently and are frequently referred to as sun blocks. The physical compounds zinc oxide and titanium dioxide scatter, reflect and absorb both UVA and UVB rays.

Woman spraying sunscreen on her legs.

Chemical Sunscreens
The majority of people applying sunscreens are using a chemical sunscreen, and these are often the most recommended by skin experts. The compounds contained in chemical sunscreens are approved by the FDA include:

  • Aminobenzoic acid (PABA) – Provides minimal UVA protection extensive UVB protection.
  • Avobenzone – Provides extensive UVA protection and limited UVB protection.
  • Cinoxate – Provides limited UVA and extensive UVB protection.
  • Dioxybenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Ecamsule – Provides extensive UVA protection limited UVB protection.
  • Homosalate – Provides minimal UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Menthyl anthranilate – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octocrylene – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octyl salicylate – Provides minimal UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Oxybenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Padimate O – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Phenylbenzimidazole – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Sulisobenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Trolamine salicylate – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.

The good news about chemical sunscreens is you do not have to worry about finding one with extensive UVA and extensive UVB protection because the vast majority of chemical sunscreens contain combinations of chemical compounds so that you are as protected as possible. This is why they are labeled as broad-spectrum sunscreens. Skin care experts suggest using an SPF of 30 (or higher) and always making sure that it provides broad-spectrum coverage.

Woman applying sunscreen on her shoulders.

Physical Sunscreens
There are currently two active ingredients approved by the FDA. They are:

  • Titanium dioxide – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Zinc oxide – Provides extensive protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

One of the reasons that these active ingredients are not as popular as their chemical counterparts is the application, the appearance and the potential for breakouts. Still, these physical ingredients are beneficial protection from both UVA and UVB rays and these work immediately upon application whereas chemical sunscreens take about 20 to 30 minutes to absorb into the skin.

Skin care experts, while often recommending chemical sunscreens, remind you that the only effective sunscreen is the one that you wear. Choose the type of sun protection that makes the most sense for your skin and your lifestyle and apply before any sun exposure.

Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreen – Vine Vera Reviews

Woman with sunscreen on her back in a beach.

With summer approaching rapidly the importance of applying a sunscreen increases. And you don’t need to put a whole lot of thought into the brand you choose because sunscreen is sunscreen, right? Not entirely. There are actually two major types of sunscreens:  physical and chemical. Both protect against UV damage, but the way in which they work differs. Sunscreens do exist that are a hybrid of both types of sun blockers containing physical and chemical sunscreens. Vine Vera reviews both physical and chemical sunscreens to help you learn which sunscreen suits your needs best.

Woman applying sunscreen in a beach.

Physical Sunscreen
Physical sunscreens are also known as sunblock or inorganic sunscreen and are generally considered safe and are approved by the FDA. Physical sunscreens tend to be thick and may leave a white cast on the skin. The UV filters in physical sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide; both are natural minerals ground into a fine powder. Zinc oxide provides complete protection from the full spectrum of UVA and UVB rays. Titanium dioxide protects against UVB rays, but not the entire UVA spectrum. One of the advantages to using a physical sunscreen is that it begins blocking harmful UV rays immediately upon application. Physical sunscreens work by blocking or deflecting the sun’s rays. While physical sunscreens do provide immediate blocking protection, they also rub off more easily than chemical sunscreens. Additionally, if spending an extended time in the sun, physical sunscreens must be applied more frequently than chemical sunscreens. A disadvantage to physical sunscreens is that titanium dioxide may increase blemishes on your skin. If mineral makeup causes you to break out, it’s most likely due to the titanium dioxide, and problematic skin may result from using a physical sunscreen.

Woman applying sunscreen in a beach.

Chemical Sunscreen
Chemical sunscreen is also known as organic sunscreen and they work mainly by absorbing the sun’s harmful rays. Some of the UV filters used in chemical sunscreen work by scattering the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens are often more liquid than physical sunscreens, and can feel quite greasy on the skin. The possible UV filters in chemical sunscreen include:

  • 4-MBC
  • Avobenzone
  • Helioplex
  • Homosalate
  • Mexoryl SX and XL
  • Octisalate
  • Otinoxate
  • Octylcrylene
  • Tinosorb S and M
  • Uvinul A Plus
  • Uvinul T 150

Some downsides to chemical sunscreen include the potential for skin irritation and damage, increased free radical damage and many of the filters have not been FDA approved yet. These UV filters have been approved in areas such as Europe and Asia. Additionally, chemical sunscreens tend to take more time to absorb into your skin. Dr. Craig Burhart, associate professor of Dermatology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was quoted in an article by the Wall Street Journal advises the use of physical sunscreens rather than chemical sunscreens. Still, he says that the best sunscreen is the one that you actually use. He is quoted as saying “[w]hether it’s a chemical or zinc oxide or titanium dioxide product, I want you to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every time you go outside, and I want you to apply it every two hours while you’re exposed to the sun.”

The bottom line is that no matter what your preference is, to protect your skin you must apply sunscreen each and every time you head outside so you can enjoy the sun safely.