Sunscreen or Sunblock

Nguyen Ha analyzes advantages and disadvantages of physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens.

Sunscreen or Sunblock

No matter who you are, how old you are, dermatologists still recommend using sunscreen products. On the market today, sunscreen has 3 main lines: physical sunscreen, chemical sunscreen or chemical hybrid physical sunscreen. With each type, there will be its own advantages and disadvantages, this article will analyze in detail physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens.

Chemical sunscreen (Sunscreen)

The main ingredient

Chemical sunscreens (also known as Sunscreen) are organic sunscreens with outstanding ingredients: avobenzone, oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, etc. These are all oil-soluble ingredients. Protective effect against both UVA and UVB rays by absorption, treatment and decomposition before they damage the skin, but is easily degraded in the sun. The ingredients above have been approved by the current US Food and Drug Administration for use in sunscreen preparations.

Avobenzone is a very strong UVA absorbent. This is the only sunscreen approved by the US Food and Drug Administration FDA. However, avobenzone is very light stable, after 1 hour of exposure to sunlight, skin protection effectiveness is reduced by about 50-60%.


Working as a chemical filter, chemical sunscreens protect skin from ultraviolet rays by absorbing, processing, and decomposing these rays before they can damage the skin. Chemical sunscreens often have a thin, light, colorless, odorless texture and are favored over physical sunscreens for their ability to resist UV rays.

  • Pros & cons

    • Convenient for daily use.
    • Does not cause white streaks on the skin and does not cause shine.
    • Many types with different SPF ratings and even water-resistant types suit the diverse needs of customers.
    • Easy to tone skin and can also be used as a replacement makeup base.
    • Easy to cause skin irritation, especially sensitive skin.
    • Less sustainable under the impact of the environment.
    • Applying it to the eyes can cause eye irritation or irritation.
    • It takes 15-20 minutes for the cream to work on your skin before it can go out.

Physical sunscreen (Sunblock)

The main ingredients

Physical sunscreen (also familiarly known as Sunblock) is an inorganic sunscreen with outstanding ingredients Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. These are all physical sunscreen ingredients that are very popular in the beauty industry.

Titanium Dioxide is an oil-free ingredient that keeps skin clear and prevents acne problems. Titanium Dioxide is derived from Titan. In its natural state, titanium exists in the form of a white, highly reflective chalk.

Zinc Oxide too, besides this ingredient also has antibacterial properties to help the healing process on the skin faster.

Zinc Oxide is derived from the zinc mineral, when applied to the skin, Zinc Oxide often leaves a slight white streak and can also cause a feeling of slight heaviness on the face. Titanium Dioxide also produces this creamy white streak on the skin but usually less than Zinc Oxide.


When applying physical sunscreen to the skin acts as a protective shield to the skin, blocking and reflecting UV rays prevent them from attacking the skin.

  • Pros & cons

    • The shield protects the skin from direct attack from UVA and UVB rays.
    • Can be passed out immediately after application without waiting for the cream to penetrate the skin.
    • Effective skin-soothing when exposed to sunlight.
    • Less skin irritation.
    • The cream is a bit thick, so it is easy to squash the skin, clog pores, leading to acne.
    • If you have to work outdoors, sweat a lot or get in contact with water, the cream on the skin is easy to wash off.
    • Easily streaks white and does not file into the skin.

What is the right choice for the skin?

Understand that physical and chemical sunscreens cannot be judged good or bad. It is important to understand how they protect your skin from the sun, whether they are right for you.

If you have sensitive skin to extremely sensitive, physical sunscreen with benign ingredients will be the sweet spot for your skin. In addition, physical sunscreen is also suitable for women with normal to dry skin.

A chemical sunscreen with a light texture that quickly penetrates the skin is the right choice for those with more oily skin.

Above is how to distinguish physical and chemical sunscreens that you can refer to. Protect your skin from UVA, UVB rays and aging by using sunscreen and sunglasses.


  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Sunscreen FAQs.
  2. Saini R, et al. (2013). How to choose the right sunscreen for your skin type.

Nguyen Ha