The main differences between chemical and physical sunscreens and which one is better

Anna OnishchenkoNews
Sunscreen with chemical and physical filters. Source:

With the onset of summer, the issue of protecting the skin from ultraviolet rays becomes especially important. Sunscreen is important not only to prevent burns but also to reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature aging.

In the modern world, there are many products with SPF. OBOZ.UA tells which one is better to choose.

There are three types of sunscreens on the market: mineral, chemical and combined. All of them have their advantages and disadvantages, so when buying SPF, you should take into account the individual characteristics of the skin.

Mineral sunscreen

Mineral sunscreens are also called physical sunscreens. They contain mineral ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which form a protective barrier on the skin's surface that reflects and scatters UV rays, preventing them from penetrating the skin.


Physical creams are less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions. Therefore, they are better suited for sensitive skin or skin with rashes. Mineral SPFs are also believed to provide better sun protection.


Physical creams have a heavier texture and tend to leave a white color on the skin. In addition, they can clog pores, which can cause problems for people with oily and problematic skin.

The main differences between chemical and physical sunscreens and which one is better

Chemical sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens contain organic compounds such as oxybenzone, dioxybenzone, octocrylene, etc. that absorb ultraviolet rays. Once applied to the skin, these ingredients penetrate the upper layers of the epidermis and absorb ultraviolet light, converting it into heat.

Previously, it was believed that chemical creams were less effective, but manufacturers are improving their products and now such SPFs are active for up to 8 hours and have a higher molecular weight, which does not allow them to penetrate deep into the skin.


Chemical filters have a lighter texture, are quickly absorbed and do not leave white marks. In addition, chemical sunscreens are a good base for makeup.


Chemical sunscreens are bad for the environment. They are also less effective than physical sunscreens.

The main differences between chemical and physical sunscreens and which one is better

Combination sunscreen

If titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are not in the first place in the composition of the cream, then this is probably a combination sunscreen that combines both types of filters. As a rule, they provide better protection against UV radiation.

How to choose a sunscreen

When choosing any cosmetic product, you need to pay attention to your skin type. If it is dry, choose moisturizing textures, and if it is oily, look for a water-based cream.

If you choose a cream for everyday use, SPF 20-25 will be enough for you. And if you plan to use it on the beach, it's better to buy sunscreen with SPF 30-50. In the end, be guided by your own preferences and choose the product that will be most comfortable for you.

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