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Breaking Down Sunscreen - Chemical vs. Physical

April 28, 2021

Breaking Down Sunscreen - Chemical vs. Physical

Sunscreen is a critical step in a morning skincare routine. It can help prevent skin cancers, burns, aging, pigmentation of the skin and much more. Sun protection is so truly important for maintaining beautiful, healthy skin. With the understanding of how important daily sun protection is, there are other factors to consider. What ingredients are safe for our health? Safe for the environment? Should a chemical sunscreen or a physical/mineral sunscreen be used? 
Let’s start by understanding the differences in how the two sunscreens offer protection:
Chemical Sunscreen - Absorbed into the skin to offer protection, Absorbs UV light and changes its’ chemical structure (turning it into heat) and then it’s released
Physical/Mineral Sunblock - Sits on the skin to offer protection, Physically blocks UV radiation by creating a barrier that reflects and scatters light
Do both forms offer adequate sun protection? Yes. However, it’s important to consider the other important factors mentioned before. Many chemical sunscreens such as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Homosalate, and others have high ratings by the EWG*. This means that these active ingredients pose moderate to high health hazards. Aside from the known dangers these active ingredients pose, this doesn’t even cover the other inactive ingredients added to many sunscreens and how those rank.
Additionally, Oxybenzone and Octinoxate (as well as various others) have been shown to bleach or kill coral reefs. This is devastating to marine ecosystems. Coral reef bleaching by these ingredients is so serious that Hawaii banned the sale of over-the-counter sunscreens containing Oxybenzone and Octinoxate.
*We use the EWG (Environmental Working Group) as a reference for product safety because we believe in the high standards they hold when it comes to our health and their data-backed system for ranking ingredient and product safety.
Finally, it is important to mention skin types. Those who have sensitive skin types, acne or hyperpigmentation often experience problems with chemical sunscreens. The heat created in the process of chemical sunscreens changing light structure can create irritation that may lead to redness, worsening or new acne or worsening of hyperpigmentation.
So, what do we choose to use and offer? Mineral sunblocks containing Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide that are non-nano (reef safe) and have a full ingredient deck that is safe for our health. At Kacadas, you will find a variety of sunscreen options so anyone can feel confident in how their SPF feels, looks and protects.
Explore our sunscreen selection here.