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Know your SPF: Physical vs. Chemical


Summer has arrived! While there’s more time for outdoor workouts, long evening strolls and lunchtime bootcamps, its more important than ever to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

I use broad spectrum physical sunscreen on my face/neck/chest every single day. Why? To prevent burning. To stop sun damage. Premature ageing. And halt that nasty pigmentation in its tracks.

But hang on, what is a Chemical Sunscreen vs a Physical Sunscreen?

CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN 

Chemical sunscreen is far easier to find and use than physical, and is probably what you’re using currently. It goes directly onto clean skin, and take 20 minutes to work.

  • works by absorbing (or sometimes scattering) UV rays
  • resistant to sweat and water they are best for a day of swimming, or the beach or gym
  • reputed to be better at UVA (ageing) protection
  • relies on chemicals to absorb or scatter the UV rays your skin is exposed to
  • requires regular reapplication because the sun breaks down their effectiveness
  • concern is growing that some of these chemical filters used can generate free radical damage, and some are even thought to disrupt endocrine systems – messing with your hormones

PHYSICAL SUNSCREEN 

Physical (or mineral) is when the UV is reflected off the skin, and doesn’t absorb into the skin at all. Modern versions use micronized zinc, which means they’re transparent and won’t make you look like a Geisha each time you apply.

  • absorb the U.V. rays and break the energy waves down within the skin
  • better at UVB (burning) protection
  • unlikely to cause irritation, (think of them as the mineral makeup of sun care) which is why all of the organic sun care brands are physical.
  • applied on TOP of all your other skin care, just before makeup.
  • Not water resistant
  • start to work immediately and requires no re-application (unless in contact with sweat/water)

 

So which one is right for you?

Emma Hobson, Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica, gives us the low-down:

‘One is not better than the other necessary in performance, but physical sunscreens are recommend for those with more sensitive skin as they seem to tolerate the physical UV screening agents over the chemical ones.  Personal taste plays a factor too, especially when exercising’ states Hobson.

‘Some people don’t like the feeling of a physical sun screen ‘sitting’ on the skin surface, especially when they sweat, also the feeling of a slight ‘chalkiness’ that physical sun screens can have, even though the texture of physical sunscreens has come an enormous way since they were first produced.’

Application needs to be a half a teaspoon of sun screen for the face, neck and ears. If you’re in an office all day you will only need to apply once in the morning, then depending on the time of day you leave, once again if you’ll be out in strong sunlight. Remember if you’re sitting near a window some UV rays can penetrate glass.

 

GET SUNSCREEN SAVVY

Sunscreen Savvy

 

 

 

Whichever you choose, remember to ‘Slip, slap, slop’ Fitties!!

Your future self will thank you.

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Demalogica - Emma HobsonEmma is a Skin and Body Care Specialist with 25 years experience. Emma has collected an extensive range of knowledge with a definite Global perspective in all aspects of the professional skin care industry.

In 1993, Emma joined the The International Dermal Institute & Dermalogica at their London location. Since 1995 Emma has been heading up the education department as Education Manager out of their corporate offices in Sydney, Australia.

 

 

 

 

About Sally O'Neil - Editor in Chief

Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on The Fit Foodie Blog. She also writes for two national health magazines, has launched her own range of healthy Protein Ball Mixes: Fit Mixes, and is the author of Chocolate Everyday.

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