The chances are, you already know that a reliable sunscreen plays a vital role in your skincare routine – or at least we hope you do!

SPF helps protect you and your skin from the overexposure of damaging sun rays which can cause premature ageing, sun damage and even skin cancer.

But knowing you should use one every day, all year round is just the first step. The next is having the knowledge around the different types of sunscreens to allow you to make informed decisions on what’s best for you.

First, are you using a physical or chemical sunscreen? The answer matters, so don’t pass it off if you don’t know. Each option works in different ways to block sun rays.

A daily sunscreen is non-negotiable, so we’re sharing some key information about each below to help you make a choice on your sun protection needs.

Physical Sunscreen

Also known as a mineral sunscreen, this option creates a physical barrier (hence the name!) on the skin that is designed to shield it from the sun’s damaging rays.

They deliver a broad-spectrum protection by reflecting harmful UV rays away from your skin back into the environment, therefore preventing sun damage effects like hyperpigmentation and wrinkles.

These physical sunscreens are not limited in their use to outdoors. They are actually able to block UVA rays that come through windows too (yep, they’ll get you and suck away your collagen!). That’s why it’s so important to apply it as a part of your daily skincare routine, even if you don’t plan to go out.

5 Key Benefits of Physical Sunscreen:

  • Blocks both UVA and UVB rays (all physical sunscreens are broad spectrum)
  • Works as soon as it’s applied to the skin
  • Unlikely to irritate the skin, great for sensitive skin types
  • They remain on top of the skin so avoid clogging pores
  • Long shelf life

So, what’s the downside(s)?

Well, physical sunscreens can be a little tough to spread and leave a noticeable white cast on the skin which is especially noticeable on darker skin tones. For somebody who enjoys wearing make-up, this can really mess with your look too.

They’re not always as water resistant as we might hope either, so that “daily application” ends up being a lot more than it sounds.

Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens don’t sit on the skin or block rays. Instead, they feature active ingredients that absorb UV rays like a sponge, before your skin does! This converts UV rays into heat, which is then released from the body.

Because they don’t sit on the outer skin layer, they don’t leave a visible film like physical sunscreens and therefore go on smoothly without leaving a sticky or greasy feeling behind. It makes it easier to wear on a broader range of skin tones too.

Due to the absorption method, less chemical sunscreen is also needed to achieve full coverage, and they last longer in water too.

5 Key Benefits of Chemical Sunscreens:

  • A thinner formulation makes application easier
  • Does not cause significant streaking or white spots
  • Smaller amounts are needed to cover large areas of the skin
  • Often contain other skin care ingredients like peptides and growth factors which can provide added benefits
  • Is more resistant to sweat or water compared to a physical sunscreen

So, what’s the downside(s)?

Unlike physical sunscreen which works instantly, chemical sunscreens need to be applied 30 minutes before exposing the skin to the sun in order to penetrate the skin and provide full protection. So, if you miss your window, the product won’t be protecting your skin properly.

With some chemical sunscreens, protection can also begin to drop when in direct sunlight, requiring more frequent re-applications. The more you re-apply, the more that is being absorbed into the skin potentially causing some irritation for sensitive skin types.

Best of both worlds: Team-up

If sensitive skin is not an issue, you’ll reap the benefits of combining both forms of sunscreen and get the most wide-ranging protection by applying a chemical formula followed by a physical sunblock.

No matter what type of sunscreen you chose, always look for the following protections:

  • Broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays
  • Oil free formulas for acne prone skin
  • Paraben-free formulas for reduced risk of skin cancer
  • Fragrance free formulas for sensitive skin
  • An SPF of 30 or higher for best protection
  • Contains Iron Oxide – this protects you from HEV light damage too from your smart devices


The ZO Skin Health Sun Damage & Protection Skin Care products have been expertly developed to offer optimum protection from the damaging effects of sun exposure.

They offer a range of scientific solutions with high performance ingredients to actively protect against UVA/UVB sun damage in order to help reduce the visible signs of aging. But the best part? They protect against the HEV light generated by our smart devices too.

Beauty Defined stock a range of ZO Skin Health SPF’s that we are highlighting as our Products of the Month for August! For help choosing which one is right for your skin type and to discuss pricing, contact us today.