Summer means endless sunshine, time away from work or school, and some
quality moments shared with friends and family at the beach or pool. Whatever
the activity, going outdoors and enjoying the sunshine can be great for
your health! Equally important is having proper sun protection. While
you likely know you should always wear sunscreen when going outside, you
may not put much thought into what
type of sunscreen you are wearing.
Not all sunscreens are the same. Many use different ingredients that can
affect people differently. Individuals who want to be completely natural
often look for “chemical-free” sunblock. However, most sunscreens
or sunblocks will have some type of chemicals in them, even if they claim
to be chemical free. With sunscreen, it’s just a matter of which
product better fits your needs. Rather than looking at sunscreen ingredients
as chemical vs. non-chemical, it is more conducive to view them as chemical
Physical sunscreens protect your skin by deflecting the sunlight. These
are generally stable sunblocks with
titanium dioxide and
zinc oxide as the primary ingredients. Titanium dioxide primarily blocks UVB rays,
while zinc oxide protects against both UVB and UVA rays. Because physical
sunscreens is not absorbed into the skin, it is a much better option for
those with sensitive skin.
Chemical sunscreens use chemical filters and are sometimes called organic
sunscreens. This form of sun protection works by absorbing the sun’s
rays and converting it to heat that is spread across the skin. The primary
ingredients include oxtinoxate, octocrylene, octisalate, avobenzone, ecamsule,
oxybenzone, and helioplex. While effective, chemical sunscreens can cause
slight irritation. Do your eyes ever sting after applying sunblock? It’s
because of the chemicals found in it. Avobenzone is a notoriously unstable
ingredient that breaks in the sunlight and must be reinforced. However,
the chemical filters provide more coverage against UVB and UVA rays.
While protection against the sun is important, knowing the ingredients
that are in your sunscreen can help you choose the right product for your
needs. At Monterey Park Hospital, we want you and your family to safely
enjoy the sun this summer. Proper sun protection can help prevent painful
sunburns, skin damage, and potential skin cancer. Take a closer look at
your sunscreen next time you pick some up from the store!
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician.
If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should
consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.