What Is The Difference Between A Physical And A Chemical Sunscreen?

Sun protection is a must all year round, but especially moving into summer, it’s important we use daily and reapply as needed. The education around the use of sunscreen is luckily widely known by many, but often we get asked what the difference between a physical and a chemical sunscreen is.

Well, firstly, sunscreen helps to protect from overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Sun damage can lead to uneven skin tone, skin cancers, and premature ageing. Simply put, the main difference between a physical or chemical SPF lies in how it works – physical acts as a shield, deflecting the sun’s rays. Chemical works by absorbing the UV rays before your skin can. 

Physical (mineral) sunscreen:

  • Reflects UV rays
  • Sits on the surface of the skin
  • Effective immediately upon application
  • Great for sensitive skin 
  • Zinc based 

Chemical sunscreen:

  • Absorbs UV rays
  • Penetrates skin – so it sits nice and smoothly
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Effective 15-30min after application

Are chemical sunscreens safe?

A common debate is the safety of chemical sunscreen. This is because certain ingredients used in the products may pose health concerns and have been found in the bloodstream hours after application. Luckily, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has banned certain harmful ingredients for use in sunscreen. 

So which one do you use? 

Deciding which SPF suits you best remains to be the choice that will most benefit your skin type and preferences. Cellbone has 3 options!


  • 4 stable Vitamin C’s 
  • Natural mineral zinc oxide based 
  • Brightens uneven tone
  • Diminishes fine lines and wrinkles 
  • Niacinamide enhances skin barrier function

SPF 30

  • Blocks UVA and UBV rays with zinc oxide 
  • Anti-inflammatory and calm effects
  • Anti-photoaging
  • Long-lasting 
  • Perfect for sensitive and problem skin

SPF 45 Moisturising Cream

  • Promotes wound healing 
  • Absorbs the energy from UVA & UVB rays preventing UV-induced free radical damage to the skin
  • Aids in fading pigmentation
  • Prevents the production of further pigmentation
  • Potent minerals aid in reducing inflammation while soothing the skin
  • Can aid in neutralising free radicals 
  • higher strength yet low irritant exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and stimulate collagen production.

By Riley McDonald
Dermal therapist at CosmediSpa

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