Chemical vs Physical sunscreens (+ an update on our SPF Moisturiser!)


Chemical vs. physical sunscreens (+ an update on our SPF moisturizer!)“style=”;” />

Many of you are probably wondering what’s happening to the SPF moisturizer we’ve been working on. After all, it’s our most requested new product EVER!

Well… the news isn’t the best… but it’s not terrible either!


We had a formula that looked really promising – it was sent to our amazing product testing team for them to test ride.

In this first test, we didn’t ask our team to test the sunscreen’s performance, we had them test it on the aesthetics and the way it was applied (after all, the best sunscreen is the one you’re going to use). use, right?).

Everything went well in our stability tests as well. The formula held up like a treat over time in the oven and our freeze/thaw test protocols.


So we were ready to send in samples for third-party SPF testing when feedback from our testing team came in. You highlighted a few issues and we wanted to hear your thoughts on them.

The problems were not surprising as they are tantamount to using zinc as a sunscreen.

While many of our testing teams loved the formula, when we asked our testers about their experiences, some of the feedback mentioned difficulty in disliking the zinc smell and leaving a white cast on their skin.


We should point out that these testers compared the new formulato her normal daily moisturizerwhich is a big request, but we wanted the new SPF moisturizer to be on par with our other creams.

There were enough of these comments to make us think twice about the formula before investing a sizable $$$ in SPF testing.

Which brings us to a doozy of a question to ask you….


Is zinc the only sunscreen option you would use?

…. Or …..

Would you consider a sunscreen with chemical filters if it meant a better user experience?


Before you answer, there are a few things to consider.

Chemical sunscreens vs. physical sunscreens

Chemical sunscreen filters (aka organic)

These guys often get a bad rap because of rumors that chemical sunscreens are bad for you and could even cause cancer. Cancer Council Australia disproved this, so we thought it was worth digging a little deeper to see if this was a viable option for our sunscreen.

In the scientific world we refer to these chemical filters as organic sunscreens because they contain carbon, but this is a different kind of “organic” than the kind grown in your garden without the use of pesticides. These organic chemical filters absorb UVB and UVA rays to provide broad spectrum protection from sunburn. A sunscreen uses a combination of filters to ensure they protect against both UVB and UVA wavelengths. They usually protect over a larger light spectrum than zinc-based (physical) sunscreens.

Chemical sunscreens can offer better product aesthetics than physical (e.g. zinc) based products. They can be lighter, less oily and with no white residue. They are definitely not natural and can tend to be more irritating to sensitive skin than physical sunscreens. They also need to be applied more frequently than physical sunscreens to maintain sun protection.

We should mention the common belief that chemical sunscreens are hormone disrupters. This is only partially correct. Some chemical sunscreens have hormonal effects on the body, but there are others that have no known effects.

Physical sunscreen filters (aka inorganic)

Physical filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work the same way as chemical filters. It was previously believed that they reflect light, but it has since been proven wrong. They absorb UV radiation just like their chemical counterparts. In the scientific world, we call these inorganic sunscreens because they contain no carbon.

When physical sunscreens absorb UV radiation, they become photoactivated. This activation creates oxidizing radicals that damage your cells. To reduce this risk, zinc must be manufactured with a special surface treatment.

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Although zinc is a natural product to begin with, when it gets into your sunscreen it is not truly natural due to the surface treatment it undergoes.

Compared to organic sunscreens, zinc-based products are typically heavy or oily, more difficult to spread, and often leave a white residue on the skin’s surface.

reef safety

Some chemical filters have been labeled as not “reef safe”. Hawaii is leading the way by banning these filters – like avobenzene – but some *have* been classified by Hawaii as reef safe – like homosalate.

We are also aware of the fact that ‘reef safe’ is a marketing spin and there is no established standard that defines what is and isn’t ‘reef safe’. Hawaii only banned the chemical/organic filters they knew were harmful. Everything else is really still open, including zinc oxide. While zinc may not be 100% reef-safe, it does suggest it’s more reef-friendly than some of the banned chemical sunscreens.

Regarding our SPF moisturizer, reef safety is good but not a top priority as it is not designed for swimming in a pool, lake, river or ocean. It’s supposed to be a day cream.

In short, both chemical and physical sunscreens have advantages and disadvantages and both cannot create truly natural products.

Chemical sunscreens have a better experience and aesthetics on their side and tend to be a better choice for problem skin. On the other hand, physical sunscreens are a little *more natural* and may be more suitable for sensitive skin, but are heavier and can leave you looking a little white.

In the end, the best sunscreen is one that you like, are comfortable with, and wear consistently.

Right. Hope this all made sense! Please let us know what type of sun protection you would prefer…

Chemical…. Or …. Physical (Zinc) ?



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