Facebook Icon

Understanding Different Types Of Sunscreens And Choosing The Right One

While you often see recommendations to use sunscreen, choosing the right one is also very important. If you start wearing a sunscreen that is unsuitable for either your skin type or the type of sun exposure you are facing, you won’t experience any significant positive effects.

The market is full of different types of sunscreens with more and more pouring in every day. Some are offered by pharmaceutical brands, others by cosmetic brands, so choosing the correct sunscreen becomes a difficult job. There are so many brands, textures and claims, you could end up becoming confused and choosing the wrong sunscreen.

So if you are looking for a sunscreen, it is necessary to learn about the different types and their pros and cons. We will help you with this important decision as it is going to impact on your youthful looks in future.

What Are The Different Types Of Sunscreens?

Cream, lotion, gel, sprays etc. are all different types of sunscreens. Sunscreening elements are also frequently found in your cosmetic products, like CC creams, BB creams, foundations, setting powders etc. This gives a great variety to choose from and these sunscreens are much better looking than the ones used in the past. They look more attractive and are more comfortable to wear.

There are two major types of sunscreens –standalone sunscreens and sun protection that is integrated into other cosmetics. Standalone sunscreens are the ones that only serve the purpose of sun protection. While sunscreens that contain cosmetics have other purposes as well, like foundation, BB cream, compact powder etc.

What Are New Sunscreens Offering?

The latest sunscreens are pouring in with improved formulas and offers. They have improved sun protection and the texture is also much better than the older ones. Here are a few of the new things they offer and their benefits too.

  • Dry touch formulas are now non-greasy with a matte finish
  • There are spray sunscreens available whose categories include being in the sun, in the pool, playing sports, on the beach etc., which can last in tough conditions
  • Oily or oil free sunscreens are available, according to your skin type
  • Spray sunscreens that can be used in water are also available, which save you from the fatigue of reapplying
  • The latest sunscreen creams and sprays don’t create a white film
  • Sprays with reduced fly away are also available
  • Nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide do not leave a white cast on your face

Which Factors Matter When Choosing A Sunblock?

Different skins require different kinds of sunblock, and other factors may also matter. So consider the following factors when you choose a sunscreen:

  • Your skin type matters –if you have oily and acne prone skin, make sure you use a lighter formula
  • If you wear makeup every day, it is a good option to adopt a sunscreen that contains cosmetics. Wearing a gel-based sunscreen under your makeup is also a good idea.
  • Your lifestyle is another important factor. If you are always short on time in the morning, it is better to go for a multi-functional product
  • If your other skincare products contain sunscreen, you can skip on a standalone one
  • If your climate is humid, go for something that is light. If it is dry, you will need something more moisturising
  • The time of the day also matters. You need more sun protection in times when UVA and UVB rays are at their peak.
  • The texture of the product matters, so choose one that you like
  • Take into consideration that sunscreens are only water resistant, they are not waterproof

The most important point is that a standalone sunscreen is always the best option as your other makeup and skincare products don’t usually contain enough sun protection. SPF 15 or 30 is not the only thing that matters, as UV protection is also important.

Your skin type is also one of the most important factors as some people can layer on products without getting acne, while others with oily or acne-prone skin cannot tolerate this, so a single layer of a multi-functional product is better. Consider all of these factors when choosing a sunscreen.

What Is The Chemical Classification Of Sunscreens?

There are two major types of sunscreens, chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens. Let’s have a look at both of them.

Physical Sunscreens

As the name suggests, the active ingredients of these sunscreens offer physical protection rather than perform a chemical process to save you from harmful sunrays. They are also called inorganic or mineral sunscreens.

They absorb, reflect and scatter UV rays like a shield. When the rays reach the surface of the skin, they are bounced back from the shield. However, not all the rays are reflected, scattered or absorbed. Some reach your skin as well.

Two major active ingredients present in physical sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. To find out what type sunscreen of you have, look at the ingredients and try finding these two ingredients.

Normally, particles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that are a little bigger are used. When these are divided into very small ones, they become nanoparticles with a size of 15-100nm. Their small size works by absorbing the UV rays rather than reflecting them.

Let’s see what benefits these physical sunscreens offer. It will help you to choose the best sunscreen for your skin type.


  • Physical sunscreens are the safest option for sensitive skin, as they do not cause any irritation or reaction and zinc oxide is an anti-irritant product
  • They are not absorbed by your skin but it can happen with sunscreens containing nanoparticles


    • They tend to leave a white cast on your face because of the particle size. However, some sunscreens have a overcome this problem as they use micronised particles for the purpose
    • They are thick and heavy, but this can also be dealt by using micronised sunscreens that feel less heavy on the skin
    • While micronised size has many benefits, it can lead to irritation because of the increased absorption by the skin, but its role is unclear yet
    • Small particles have less of a shielding effect than larger particles
    • Sunscreens with larger particles can lead to clogged pore and cause

breakouts, but there are various factors that cause breakouts as well

Chemical Sunscreens

These sunscreens utilise chemical filters as their main active ingredient and that’s why they are called chemical sunscreens.

The name chemical sunscreen sounds confusing because of the fact that everything is made up of chemicals. So how are chemical sunscreens different from physical sunscreens, which are also made up of chemicals? Well, this is how nomenclature works so don’t waste too much time on this.

Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the energy of UV rays and then dissipating it by converting it to heat while not causing any harm to your pretty skin. The chemicals that are used to filter UV rays include avobenzone, ecamsule (Mexoryl SX is the trade name used exclusively by L’Oreal), octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene and oxybenzone. So look for these ingredients when you are trying to figure out what type of sunscreen you have.

Let’s look into pros and cons of this type of sunscreen too.


  • Avobenzone is the most commonly used and provides a very effective UVA filter


  • Chemical sunscreens can lead to skin irritation and cause contact dermatitis, irritant dermatitis and photosensitivity
  • Avobenzone is a highly unstable compound that degrades in sunlight, and is the most commonly used chemical.

The unstable nature of avobenzone is being researched. There are now various compounds that stop avobenzone from degrading. These chemicals are photostabilisers like octocrylene.

There are also some new versions of avobenzone, as well as new delivery techniques that make avobenzone stable. These include liposomes, which deliver avobenzone to the skin in an encapsulated form, but it is not yet known how effective these techniques are.

So Which Sunscreen Should You Go For?

That totally depends on your environmental factors and your skin. If you have sensitive skin, then physical sunscreens may work better for you. If it is hot humid weather, a sunscreen that is more resistant to sweating is good for you. So read the article, evaluate your skin and choose the best solution for you.

Remember that sunscreen can only prevent sun damage, it cannot reverse the signs of sun damage.

Hyperpigmentation can also be prevented, but not treated. So save your skin from the sun before the damage occurs.

We use cookies to give you the most relevant experience.

Read More about Cookie Policy

Hide This
Learn more about Skin Education Guide


Download Icon
Thank you!
For Contacting US. Please check your inbox, we have sent you the Download link
Note: if you did not get the email, please check spam/junk folder
Book A Consultation

Don’t Just Take Our Word For It