If you’re wondering what separates the two categories, to put it simply, chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that absorb UVA and UVB rays and convert them to heat to be released from the skin while physical sunscreens work to deflect UVA and UVBs creating a physical barrier (hence the name).
Physical sunscreens contain natural agents like zinc and titanium oxide while chemical sunscreens contain carbon-based substances such as avobenzone, oxybenzone and ecamsule.
While there’s a lot of debate around the two, both work to protect your skin. However, you may want to opt for a physical sunscreen for its natural qualities or because it is softer on sensitive skin.
We’ve rounded up the best physical sunscreens below.
Ultra Violette Queen Screen SPF 50+, $47 from Adore Beauty
Boasting a serum-like texture that feels like you're wearing nothing at all. This glow-boosting product contains Kakadu Plum which is naturally high in vitamin c.
Paula’s Choice Super-Light Wrinkle Defence SPF 30, $18.70 from Paula’s Choice
Lightly tinted, pure mineral zinc oxide sunscreen perfectly blends into the skin while antioxidants boost the skin’s environmental defences and prevent premature ageing.
Medik8 Physical Sunscreen SPF50+, $69 from Adore Beauty
This lightweight face cream contains trusted physical filters, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, to reflect the sun’s radiation away from the skin. It’s also paraben, alcohol and mineral oil free, not to mention vegan and cruelty free.
Dermalogica Super Sensitive Shield SPF 30, $80 from Adore Beauty
Ideal for those prone to flare ups, Dermalogica’s SPF offering hydrates while reinforcing barrier lipids often compromised in those with sensitive skin.
Esmi Skin Minerals Skin Shield Natural Face Sunscreen SPF 30, $45 from Sephora
Preservative free and formulated with carrot root oil and hyaluronic acid this sunscreen will plump and hydrate while protecting from UVA and UVBs.
Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Daily Defense UV Shield SPF50, $76 from Mecca
Non-greasy and suitable for all skin types, including sensitive, this sunscreen also includes vitamin E to deliver antioxidant and free radical defence to fight wrinkles and dark spots.