Physical vs Chemical Suncreen’s: Which One Is Right For You?

Summer is finally here and boy, has it been long awaited! Now the sun is out we have to get serious about protecting our skin.

We all know that sunscreen is important for everyone and it should be used daily (even when it’s cloudy as UV rays can still penetrate through the clouds) but what is the difference between a physical sunscreen and a chemical one and which is the best one for you?

korean lady holding sunscreen wearing a hat

First off lets talk about sunscreens in general and why you SHOULD wear spf on a daily basis.

Sunscreens are made for one main goal ad that is to protect the skin from the harmful UV rays from the sun but these days and modern technology sunscreens can do a lot more! They now have a whole host of beneficial skincare treatments as well as anti-aging properties and vitamins.

The reason why you should wear it daily is because UV rays (ultra violet) from the sun create free radicals, these are molecules that are unstable and break down collagen in the skin. Over a prolonged period of time the UV rays will lead to damage in the skin that the body will not be able to heal, this leads to premature aging and hyper-pigmentation. UV damage has been known to be linked to skin cancer and long term health issues. So it is extremely important to wear SPF not just for vanity’s sake but for the sake of your health too!

There are two types of UV rays that cause damage to the skin: UVA and UVB rays.

UVA rays do not cause sunburn, they are what cause the skin the darken. Also known as silent killers as you don’t feel the effect on the skin. The penetrate deep into the layers causing irreversible skin damage over a long period of time.

UVB rays are the ones that cause you to get burnt, the effects are quick and painful.


Commonly known as physical blockers, they protect your skin by reflecting and blocking UV rays. Physical sunscreens use mineral UV filters that generally cause no irritation to the skin.

  • Titanium dioxide is a natural mineral with a distinct, white pigment (this causes that typical white cast). It remains stable when exposed to UV rays, and unlike many chemical UV filters, it does not degrade in the sun. It protects against the full spectrum of UVB rays, but not all UVA rays.
  • Zinc oxide is the only FDA approved ingredient that protects against the entire spectrum of UVA and UVB rays.

Physical Sunscreen Pros

  • Creates a protective barrier on the surface
  • Soft and semi-matte
  • Corrects tone
  • Suits Oily skin


Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV radiation and prevent them from penetrating the skin. The filters used in chemical sunscreens create a chemical reaction that transforms UV rays into heat which is then released from the skin.

Chemical Sunscreen Pros

  • The texture is thinner and runny, more suitable for daily use and under makeup.
  • The formula is easier to add additional treatments to, such as peptides and enzymes, which offer other skin benefits.
  • Colorless, doesn’t leave a white cast.
  • Offers more UVA protection than physical sunscreens.


Oily/Combination -

MISSHA Waterproof Sun Milk SPF50+ PA++++ - has qualities of BOTH physical and Chemical!

INNISFREE Intensive Anti-Pollution Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ - a physical sunscreen that leaves a semi-matte finish

Dry/Anti-ageing - 

PLUSTEM UV Perfect Block Essence SPF50+ PA+++ - a chemical sunscreen that has amazing anti-ageing benefits and treats other skincare issues such as redness and irritation!

MISSHA All Around Safe Block Mild Sun SPF30 PA++  - a physcial 100% mineral filter sunscreen that does not irritate sensitive skins


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