We talked about knowing your UVA to PA++++ in the Guide to Sunscreens Part 1 and now we’re here to let you know more about the different types of sunscreens and which kind is best for you!

Before you jump in and purchase any sunscreen off the shelf, you need to know the different kinds of sunscreen there are available in stores. There are two general types of sunscreen – physical and chemical ones. There are also hybrid sunscreens that contain both physical and chemical sunscreen ingredients.

Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreens

  Physical Chemical
How They Work
  • Physical sunscreens protect your skin from the sun by deflecting or blocking the sun’s rays.                                                                                                                                                 
  • Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s rays. Some chemical filters can scatter sun rays, but still mostly just absorb them.
Other Names
  • Inorganic sunscreen
  • Organic sunscreen
  • Titanium dioxide protects against UVB rays, but not the full spectrum of UVA rays.
  • Zinc oxide protects against the entire spectrum of UVB and UVA rays. 
  • Starts protecting immediately upon application.
  • Chemical filters offer more coverage against UVA and UVB rays than physical sunscreens, but the range of protection will depend on the particular ingredient and its stability.
  • Avobenzone, for example, protects against the full spectrum UVA rays.
  • Must wait 20 minutes after application for effective sun protection.
  • Thick and opaque, may be hard to apply.
  • Tends to leave a white castor tint. 
  • Rubs off more easily and must be frequently reapplied.
  • Colorless, odorless, usually runny.
  • Can sometimes double as a makeup primer, depending on the active and the formulation.

 Credit: Skinacea

Sunscreen Bottles

#1 Sensitive skin

  • Look for sunscreens that are natural, PABA-free (para-aminobenzoic acid), oil-free, hypoallergenic and fragrance-free.
  • Mineral based sunscreens are ideal as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide stays on the skin’s surface instead of being absorbed into it.

#2 Acne-prone

  • Use lightweight, oil-free and fragrance-free sunscreens.
  • Look out got the term “non-comedogenic” as it means it won’t clog your pores.

#3 Oily skin

  • Look for sunscreens that are mineral oil-free and non-comedogenic.
  • Use water or gel based sunscreens to avoid breakouts.

#4 Dry skin:

  • Use cream-based sunscreens with extra hydrating ingredients like glycerin and aloe.
  • Avoid sunscreens with alcohol.

#5 Swimmer or enjoy outdoor sports

  • Use sunscreens that are water-resistant or waterproof sun protection.
  • Keep sunscreen away from your eyes.
  • Re-apply after you get out of the water or every 2 hours as no sunscreen is 100% water and sweat-proof.

Tips for acne-prone, oily and sensitive skin:

  • Don’t use the same sunscreen meant for your body on your face.
  • If you are using acne treatment products, apply it first, wait 20 minutes or so and then apply your sun protection over it.
  • Remember to wash your face before going to bed to prevent pores from clogging.

Credit: Sun Protection and Products Guide

Are you familiar with sunscreen jargons? If not, find out more about it in the first part of our Sunscreen Guide!

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