What is the difference between physical versus chemical sunscreen?
The difference between physical (also called mineral) and chemical sunscreens is how they work. Physical sunscreen uses inorganic chemicals that can reflect or scatter sunlight away from the skin, and chemical sunscreens use organic (carbon-based) chemicals to absorb UV rays so that skin doesn’t absorb it.
Some people prefer chemical sunscreens because they are generally very lightweight and easy to blend, which makes them easy to reapply, for example. Other people prefer mineral sunscreens because they work very quickly once applied to skin and can work well with sensitive skin.
How do I know what sunscreen ingredients are safe?
FDA must approve any active ingredient before it can be used in sunscreen. To date, FDA has approved 17 ingredients for use in sunscreen, including oxybenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Several other ingredients are under FDA consideration.
What is PABA, and why is it used in sunscreen?
PABA, short for Para-AminoBenzoic Acid, is an antioxidant that can absorb UVB rays when applied to the skin and is an FDA-approved active ingredient in sunscreen.
What is homosalate, and why is it used in sunscreen?
Homosalate is an FDA-approved sunscreen active ingredient that provides primarily UVB protection when applied to the skin.
Are DEET or other insect repellents safe to be used with sunscreen?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is fine to use these products together. The CDC advises that people should apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second. In general, CDC recommends use of separate insect repellent and sunscreen products. However, the CDC also notes that a sunscreen’s SPF level may decrease when a DEET-containing insect repellent is applied after sunscreen, so people may need to reapply sunscreen more frequently if using the products in combination.