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What do you need to know about sunscreens?

There is a chemical sunscreens and a physical (or mineral) sunscreen.

If you see the term “sunscreen,” it usually refers to chemical sunscreen. While “sunblock” refers to physical sunscreen.

A chemical sunscreen works by absorbing UV rays, converting the rays to heat, and releasing them from the skin. In contrast, a physical sunscreen works instantly by blocking the UV rays from being absorbed into the skin.

Chemical sunscreen is usually composed of oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, homosalate, octocrylene, and octinoxate. In comparison, a physical sunscreen contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that are considered natural minerals safer for sensitive skin types.

Because of the difference in composition and action, the application of sunscreen also varies. Chemical sunscreens are best applied right after washing the face, while physical sunscreens are applied at the very end of your routine. 

Since sunblocks sit on top of the skin and are easily washed off, a more frequent re-application might be needed. The advised amount for adequate protection is two tablespoons for the face and body and ½ teaspoon for the face alone.

If you want one that does not leave a white film and can be easily worn with make-up, chemical sunscreen is preferred. But if you have sensitive skin, a physical sunscreen might be better.

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Dr. Elli Reyes is a specialist of Aesthetic Medicine from the Philippines. With over four years of specialized training, her aesthetic practice has involved a variety of skin treatments involving Botox, fillers, and the like. As a licensed physician, she has been engaged by multiple clinics and is regularly interviewed by the local media as an expert in the science of the skin. Her research and writings to date have centered on nutrition, functional health, and general beauty.

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