Slip, slop, slap – it’s a part of our everyday life when you live in Australia – a phrase which has been drilled into us for decades.… Yet so many of our first-time clients query us on the topic of sunscreen, what type best suits their skin, what’s the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens and why some sunscreens are better than others?… Well, we’re about to set the record straight on this essential part of your skincare regime.
We all know about the dangers of the sun’s ultraviolet rays to our skin, but did you know that there are certain ingredients that can be formulated into sunscreens that could be causing more harm than good?
Sunscreen is not a ‘one size fits all’ product and not all sunscreens are created equal and here’s why…
Firstly, there are two different types of sunscreen formulations in the marketplace – chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens.
Let’s start with chemical sunscreens, which tend to feel very lightweight, making them more wearable and easier to mix with other cosmetics and skin care products. They are also most commonly found in retail stores and supermarkets.
A chemical sunscreen uses one or more organic carbon-based compounds – oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate – to create a chemical reaction of protection. A single chemical is generally not enough to protect both types of harmful rays, so a compound formula is required to provide effective broad-spectrum protection. Sounds like a sound solution to protect your skin so far?… Actually NO!
These compound ingredients absorb and penetrate into the layers of the skin and soak up UVA and UVB rays like a sponge… Meaning the actual process of using a chemical sunscreen and converting the UV rays generates a lot of inflammation and increases the skin’s internal temperature…. Ouch!! This isn’t sounding so good now is it?…
This inflammation can exacerbate an underlying skin issue which can lead to a slow destruction of the skin’s epidermal health by darkening / relapsing the skin’s pigmentation, aggravating skins flushing and irritation.
Because these chemicals are able to cross into the skin and other tissues, these ingredients do raise some concerning questions. Do these chemicals have the ability to penetrate into the bloodstream? Are there long-term or allergy reactions to these chemicals? Concerns have also been raised about potential of increased free radical damage within the body from ongoing use.
Did you know that these ingredients not only could be harmful on our skin, but also on the ocean’s ecosystem? The chemical ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate have been banned in Hawaii for posing a bleaching risk to coral reefs when worn while swimming in the ocean… It’s scary to think what these cheaper “supermarket brand” sunscreens are doing to our skin??
The alternative type of sunscreen formulation is known as a physical sunscreen (also referred to as mineral sunscreen). Physical sunscreens tend to feel thicker in texture and may look chalky on certain complexions. However, there are numerous benefits to physical sunscreens (that far outweigh the chemical alternative), which are widely known to compliment the skin, in addition to offering that all important sun protection.
Physical sunscreens use titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or a combination of both to physically block the sun’s radiation. Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are naturally occurring, active, earth minerals, which are finely milled and formulated into physical defence sunscreens. When applied to the skin physical sunscreens work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin. The UV rays literally “bounce off” this barrier, and the skin acts like a mirror reflecting off UV rays. This is why they are also referred to as physical blockers, because they sit on top of your skin like a shield.
Both Titanium and Zinc Oxide offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays and are naturally broad spectrum. Because they deflect the heat given off by the sun and no chemical agents are being absorbed into the skin’s tissue, at Skin by VC Dermal, we strongly recommend physical sunscreens in every regime, especially those who suffer from heat-activated skin issues such as melasma or rosacea.
Both forms of sunscreen – chemical and physical are commonly utilised in the market, and yes, wearing one form of sunscreen is better than no sunscreen at all.
When purchasing a sunscreen, you should be looking for those all-important physical defence active ingredients (Zinc and Titanium Oxide) that provide the maximum skin protection from UV radiation, with very minimal skin response.
While there is no perfect sunscreen, you can definitely select one that avoids utilising those harmful chemical ingredients highlighted earlier.
At VC Dermal, we strongly recommend incorporating a physical sunscreen into everyone’s skincare regime. It should be a stable product and applied regularly.
Try to look for one with added benefit, one that contains some soothing and healing botanicals and reparative marine extracts. Formulas are key to any method, so by incorporating the appropriate ingredients within skincare we are able to get the skin in optimal health intentionally and efficiently.
We like to refer to a sunscreen as a protector and skincare treatment in one. It is there to maintain healthy skin, support the skins structure and prevent future damage – allowing you multi-functional, multi-tasking protection.
One brand we stand by and recommend is Lira Clinical’s essential range of daily SPF 30 moisturisers. With three options available – Classic Tint, Hydrating and Oil Free – there is one to suit all skin type.
Lira Clinical sunscreens offer superior quality 21% Zinc Oxide physical sunscreen defence and incorporate the latest generation of peptides, powerful botanicals and antioxidant protection. Through on-going, daily use you will notice structural skin improvements and your skin will begin to appear brighter, feel softer and look healthier.
If you have any further queries or wish to book a skin consultation with one of our trusted dermal therapists, please click here.