Chemical V Physical sunscreens


Which should I use?


Hi everyone, Janelle here. I make a point to discuss the importance of wearing sunscreen with all of my clients.It is extremely important to use sunscreen following any of our  anti-ageing treatments – such as  IPL with our Sciton® BBL or Laser Facial Peels  to avoid complications and maintain results.

I was talking through the post care for a client recently about the importance of using sunscreen and she said she didn’t wear sunscreen because she didn’t want the chemicals to be absorbed into her skin – this is not the first time I have heard this so have taken this opportunity to discuss sunscreens.


There are two main types of sunscreens: chemical sunscreens and physical barrier sunscreens.

1)    Chemical sunscreens use synthetic compounds which create a chemical reaction in our skin to change UV rays from the sun into heat, which then is released into the air.

2)    Physical sunscreens use mineral ingredients which sit on top of the skin and deflect UV rays away.


Although both types of sunscreen are effective I have noticed that more and more clients are opting to avoid chemical sunscreens and are choosing to use physical barrier sunscreens instead . Even though there is no good evidence that using chemical sunscreens is harmful many people are preferring to use a physical sunscreen. So if using a  chemical based sunscreen concerns you, I recommend choosing a physical sunscreen to limit your exposure to some potentially harmful chemicals.


Physical sunscreens contain active mineral ingredients, which sit on top of the skin and deflect UV rays away. Look for mineral UV filters, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are gentle on sensitive skin and work immediately on application. No more waiting around for 20 minutes before heading outside! Both ingredients are broad spectrum in their action, protecting the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. I know what you are thinking – fluorescent colours and white casts…

But thanks to modern technology, there are multiple forms of these with smaller molecule sizes that rub in easily, and no longer leave the skin looking ashy. Look for the words ‘micronised’ or ‘nano’ on your sunscreen tube.

Remember that sunscreen is only effective if used properly so apply liberally, reapply after 2 hours and check the expiry date!

IPL with our Sciton® BBL,  Laser Peels and wearing sunscreen are honestly the most important things you can do to keep your skin looking youthful.


Janelle Holton-Lowe

Appearance Nurse Specialist

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