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Sunscreen is one of those products that on the surface seems to be simple, because sunscreen is sunscreen, right?
There are different three types: physical, natural and chemical and once you throw in jargon like SPF, broad-spectrum, UVA, UVB and nanoparticles, you can be forgiven for having absolutely no idea which type is best for you and your skin type.
We interviewed three experts to help you make the right decision the next time you want to stock up on this
summer year-round staple.
By Marie Jenkins, founder of Australian natural skincare company, Kosmea.
Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing (or sometimes scattering) UV rays. They rely on chemicals like Octylcrylene, Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, OxyBenzone, and Homosalate and Helioplex to absorb or scatter the UV rays your skin is exposed to. There is growing concern that some of these chemical filters used can generate free radical damage (“bad”), and some are even thought to be endocrine disruptors, which means they’re messing with your hormones. I would avoid OxyBenzone personally.
Physical (or mineral) is when the UV is reflected off the skin, and doesn’t absorb into the skin. Physical sunscreens are unlikely to cause irritation; most of the organic sun care brands are physical. If they do make you break out, it’s likely the titanium dioxide, not the zinc oxide.
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Physical sunscreens start to work immediately and require no re-application, unless water or sweat or tears interferes with your original application.
Physical sunscreens are thought to be more effective, overall, at blocking the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Other benefits include a longer shelf life and longer wear time on the skin, although they’re not as resistant to water and sweat as chemical blockers.
For sensitive skins I would recommend natural broad-spectrum physical sun screens such as zinc oxide; this broad-spectrum sun screen reflects both UVA and UVB rays.
By Irene Falcone, natural skincare expert and founder of toxin-free beauty website, www.nourishedlife.com.au
Is natural SPF just as effective as other types? What’s the difference? Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. Both of these use a different mechanism for protecting skin and preventing sun damage. The most common or ‘mainstream’ sunscreens contain chemical filters which usually includes a combination of active ingredients like octocrylene, oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, homosalate and octinoxate.