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Understanding the Different Types of Sunscreen and How They Work!

As summer approaches, it’s important to remember to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. However, with so many different types of sunscreen on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. Here’s a guide to understanding the different types of sunscreen and how they work.

Chemical Sunscreens:

Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays and converting them into heat, which is then released from the skin. This type of sunscreen contains several active ingredients that work together to provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Some common active ingredients in chemical sunscreens include oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate.

One important thing to note about chemical sunscreens is that they must be applied at least 20 minutes before sun exposure, as they need time to absorb into the skin. Additionally, they need to be reapplied every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

Physical Sunscreens:

Physical sunscreens, also known as mineral sunscreens, work by forming a barrier on top of the skin that reflects and scatters UV rays. The active ingredients in physical sunscreens are typically zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

Physical sunscreens provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays and are gentle enough for those with sensitive skin. They don’t need to be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure and don’t degrade in sunlight, so they don’t need to be reapplied as frequently as chemical sunscreens.

However, physical sunscreens can leave a white cast on the skin and may feel heavier than chemical sunscreens.

Combination Sunscreens:

Combination sunscreens use a mix of chemical and physical ingredients to provide broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. This type of sunscreen is a good option for those who want the benefits of both types of protection.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen:

When selecting a sunscreen, it’s important to look for a broad-spectrum product that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Both types of radiation can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.

Additionally, choose a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30. SPF 30 can filter out 97% of UVB rays, while higher SPF levels provide only a marginal increase in protection.

In conclusion, understanding the different types of sunscreen and how they work can help you make an informed choice when selecting a product. Remember to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and to apply it regularly to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Stay safe and enjoy your summer!


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