The beauty world is fast becoming obsessed with chemical-free products and of course sunscreens are no exception. Chemical-free sunscreens are said to be gentler, safer and more effective than traditional sunscreens so it’s no surprise they’re the preferred choice of many people. But what are chemical-free sunscreens? How can we identify them, how do they work and are they really a better choice? Read on to find out.
Chemical-free sunscreen definition
If you think that chemical-free sunscreen means that sunscreen doesn’t contain any chemicals, you’re wrong. In fact, it is impossible to find any cosmetic products that don’t contain chemicals. Yep, natural ones contain chemicals too. That’s because everything that is made up of matter is a chemical. Water is a chemical, plants and human beings are made of chemicals. In a nutshell, everything is a chemical.
However, the word chemical has, for simplicity reasons, been erroneously and continuously used to define everything that’s not natural so it has started to assume this meaning too. I am ashamed to say I’m guilty of doing this too. But back to sunscreen, now that you know what a chemical really is, what does chemical-free means in regard to this very important cosmetic product?
Well, it simply means that the product doesn’t contain any sunscreen agents that contain carbon. How can you know what ingredients are made with carbon, I hear you ask? Well, that’s very easy. The only sunscreen agents that are carbon-free are Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, so if you wanna use “chemical-free” sunscreen look for products that contain these ingredients only.
How do chemical-free sunscreens work?
Ever wondered why sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure? That’s because most sunscreen agents (the carbon ones to be exact) need to be absorbed by the skin to be activated and become effective. Twenty minutes is how long it takes for this chemical reaction to occur.
Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, on the other hand, don’t have to be absorbed. They work as shields, forming a protective layer on your skin. When the sun rays hit this barrier, they are simply bounced off so they won’t damage your skin. These two ingredients work straight away, no need to wait this time. Not only that, but they also protect against the entire UV spectrum, are gentler and less irritating, a perfect choice for those with sensitive skin.
Are chemical-free sunscreens better?
I personally think that “chemical-free” sunscreens are better for several reasons: they protect against both UVA and UVB rays instead than just from one type like most other sunscreen agents do and they don’t irritate skin. Another bonus is that Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are effective immediately after application. That doesn’t mean of course that all the other sunscreens are bad. As long as they offer broad spectrum protection and don’t cause any negative reactions to your skin, they are effective and valid products. But I do think that “chemical-free” sunscreens are just that little bit better.
Do you use chemical-free sunscreens?