Physical sunscreen continues to be plugged as the BEST option by many because it ‘apparently’ reflects 100% of UV.
We know it might be hard to believe, especially when you’ve got dermal therapists and big franchises claiming otherwise just so they can sell you their own in-house products. These guys should know better but this is the skincare industry after all, and it’s full of misleading, deceptive information and plenty of marketing garbage.
Recently we came across a post on social media whereby someone was trying to demonstrate how effective physical sunscreen is using a similar image to what we’ve provided here (above). One side of the face (that had the sunscreen applied) was substantially darker then the other side, indicating that the physical sunscreen was absorbing (not reflecting).
They not only completely contradicted themselves, but also highlighted the fact that they don’t actually know how to use the equipment they have or interpret the information it provides. The evidence was right there – crystal clear – but they still stated that physical reflects 100% of UV.
This is exactly the kind of misleading information that we are trying to help you avoid so you can make better, more informed decisions about your skincare.
In our photo as shown above – on the left we have physical sunscreen, and on the right we have chemical sunscreen.
As you can clearly see, physical is absorbing UV (which is to be expected). If it were true that physical reflected 100% of UV, then you would expect to see one side of the face almost completely white.
Does absorption really matter? No, it doesn’t. The arguments surrounding it are very weak. Given both sunscreens absorb, it makes those arguments even weaker.
Which is better? Neither. More important is the application because if you don’t apply either correctly, then their efficacy is going to be seriously degraded.
It comes down to personal preference. Yes, some people may find chemical based sunscreens irritate their skin, however this could be a really good indication that you have underlying issues OR you’re using a cheap chemical based sunscreen that contains old/dated filters (ingredients). The newer chemical based filters/ingredients are very good and have proven more effective (in some cases) then the physical counterparts.