Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreen: What You Need to Know
From Woodside Director of Wellness Dr. Chaney
Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. Each uses a different mechanism for protecting skin and maintaining stability in sunlight.
Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays, typically with a combination of two to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Physical (or mineral) sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These physical sunscreens create an actual physical barrier to reflect rays.
Most sunscreens in the US market block UVB rays and very few block UVA rays. UVA rays increase the risk of melanoma and basal cell carcinomas. UVB rays cause sunburn and increase the risk of squamous cell carcinoma. The best sunscreens for protecting against UVA rays are the physical (mineral) sunscreens. Brands like Ocean Potion or Coola are mineral based brands and have the least amount of “other ingredients.”
How to Choose a Safer Sunscreen
- Avoid Spray Sunscreen – When the sunscreen is sprayed, toxic particles are released into the air, making them easy to breath in.
- Avoid Super-High SPFs – Higher SPF sunscreens (SPF 50+) are not intrinsically harmful. However, there’s evidence that the higher protection level gives people a misleading sense of security, encouraging them to stay in the sun longer than they should.
- Avoid Sunscreen Towelettes or Powders – These offer dubious sun protection and the powder poses a risk of lung irritation if you inhale it.
- Protects Against Both UVA and UVB Rays – Find a sunscreen that protects against both these rays.
The Best Sunscreens
In 2015, Coola was awarded the best sunscreen and was chosen as Environmental Working Group’s Best Beach and Sport Sunscreen. You can find Coola sunscreens at The Spa. Visit us on the lower level of the Clubhouse to find this and other great skin care products.
“I encourage you to read labels and choose mineral based sunscreens that have very few “other” ingredients. Avoid any sunscreen that has Retinyl palmitate, Oxybenzone or Paraben on the label”. -Dr. Chaney, Director of Wellness at Woodside