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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Sunscreen for

Posted on 23 April 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin

Summer days are synonymous with pool floaties, popsicles, and a healthy layer of sunscreen. As you start spending more time outside, you'll want to gear up against the sun's UV rays so you can keep your skin safe. The American Academy of Dermatology (ADA) recommends your sunscreen meet these three criteria:

  • SPF 50 or higher
  • Broad spectrum
  • Water resistant for 40-80 minutes

But with so many options on the market, finding the right sunscreen can be hard. Read on to get a quick and easy explanation of the different kinds of sunscreen, decide which one is right for you, and learn how to beat the summer rays and enjoy your summer days. 

2 Types of Sunscreen: Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreen

While sunscreen takes many forms, it usually falls within two categories: physical or chemical. The main difference between the two types of sunscreen is how they protect from the sun's rays.

  • Physical sunscreen, also known as mineral sunscreen, works by creating a physical barrier on your skin that shields it from the sun's rays.
  • Chemical sunscreen contains compounds that absorb UV rays and convert them into heat, which is then released from the skin.

The easiest way to find out which type of sunscreen you have is to flip to the back of the container and find the active ingredients. Physical sunscreens contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreens may contain avobenzone, octinoxate, or oxybenzone. 

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin

Both physical and chemical sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. The best sunscreen for you depends on your skin type, lifestyle, and personal preferences.

Physical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreen is best if you have sensitive or oily/acne-prone skin. Because it contains gentler ingredients than chemical sunscreen, it is less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions. It is also non-comedogenic, which means it won't clog pores.

However, it may leave a white cast on the skin, which deeper skin tones may want to keep in mind. 

Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreen is best if you have normal to dry skin or a deeper skin tone. Chemical sunscreen usually contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or ceramides, which can keep skin moisturized. It also tends to have a more lightweight texture than physical sunscreens, which can be more comfortable to wear day-to-day.

Unlike physical sunscreens, chemical sunscreen doesn't leave a white cast, which may better fit deeper skin tones.

However, chemical sunscreens take time to absorb into the skin and become effective. You may want to consider if you're in a hurry and need immediate protection upon application. 

Keep Your Skin Safe with The Best Sunscreen for You

The best sunscreens are high-SPF, broad-spectrum, and water-resistant. Both physical and chemical sunscreens may meet these requirements.

If you have sensitive or oily/acne-prone skin, try physical sunscreen. If you have normal to dry or deep skin, consider chemical sunscreen. Both are available in lotions, sprays, and sticks.

The best one, dermatologists conclude, is the one you actually use.

Your sun protection shouldn't stop at sunscreen, though. Consider adding sun-protective clothing, like shirts and hats, from trusted companies like Little Leaves Clothing Company. Our dermatologist-designed clothes block 98% of the sun's harmful UV rays, keeping you safe and stylish this summer.

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