Shopping For Different Types of Sunscreen in Malaysia? This Is The Ultimate Guide You Need!

different types of sunscreen

Vogue’s former senior fashion editor, 73-year-old Vera Wang once said, the secret to looking good is “work, sleep, a vodka cocktail, and not much sun”. If you haven’t yet gotten the memo, you need to wear sunscreen every day, whether indoors or outdoors, to keep your skin protected, avoid premature ageing, and prevent skin cancer. However, not all sunscreen is created equal and it can be tricky to choose the right one when you’re shopping for SPF. Here, we round up the different types of sunscreen to clear up common sunscreen confusion.

Here Are The Different Types Of Sunscreen You Need To Beat The Blazing Heat

There’s absolutely no excuse to skimp on sun protection, especially in Malaysia’s tropical climate. Sorry! While we are constantly reminded of the importance of skin protection, people also tend to forget that the type of sunscreen you use is equally crucial. Generally, there are three types of sunscreen, chemical, physical and hybrid. Let’s have a look at the differences between these sunscreen products.

Chemical Sunscreen

best sunscreen for face
Credit: 3w clinic official store and OppsbeautySupplier on Shopee Malaysia

Chemical sunscreen ingredients are made up of all active ingredients that do not contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. This is also the reason why it is called organic sunscreen. It absorbs into your skin like lotion and blends really well with the skin. It forms a layer of barrier over the skin that converts UV light into heat for maximum sun protection.

Chemical sunscreen’s lightweight formula also makes it easy to be mixed with makeup and other skincare products, thus making it the best sunscreen for the face. So, if you’re a makeup junkie who can’t live a day without full-face makeup on, this is your best bet. Also, this type of sunscreen provides the best protection for the body if you’re active, sweat, and swim a lot during the day as it is water-resistant. No matter how many times you jump into the pool to rescue a kid, it never comes off.

Best chemical sunscreen that shields against UV:

Physical Sunscreen

physical sunscreen drugstore
Credit: iiMONO Living, La Roche Posay, and on Shopee Malaysia

Physical sunscreen is also known as a natural sunscreen (inorganic) or mineral sunscreen due to fine mineral particles like titanium oxide and zinc oxide. It works by reflecting and scattering the UV rays from your body as the mineral particles form a protective layer on the surface of your skin. Not just that, physical sunscreen is usually non-comedogenic and is perfect for people with sensitive skin. Tan-skinned people can opt for tinted physical sunscreen as it often leaves a white cast on the skin unless you don’t mind looking like you’ve been dipped in white paint. 

Best physical sunscreen/mineral sunscreen that shields against UV:

Hybrid Sunscreen

best hybrid sunscreen malaysia
Credit: Kao Official Store, Dermaskinshop Official Store, Strawberrynet Official Shop and skintific official store on Shopee Malaysia

Hybrid sunscreen is another type of sunscreen that may sound new to some people but is widely available on the market. It is called hybrid sunscreen because it is a combination of physical and chemical sunscreen. If you may have already labelled yourself an indecisive person, set your worries aside. Now,  you get to enjoy the best of both worlds due to the non-irritating formula from physical sunscreen, plus lightweight broad-spectrum coverage from chemical sunscreen.

Best hybrid sunscreen that shields against UV:

What Is Triple Sunscreen?

A triple sunscreen shields your skin against all three rays; UVA, UVB and Infrared.

Chemical vs Physical Sunscreen: What Do You Need To Know Before Choosing Different Types Of Sunscreen?

physical sunscreen vs chemical sunscreen
Credit: Anna Nekrashevich and Eka Sutrisno via Pexels, Onela Ymeri and BATCH by Wisconsin Hemp Scientific via Unsplash

Everybody knows that your skin and sun aren’t best friends. For starters, there are a few non-negotiable checklists you need to take note of regardless of which type of sunscreen you’re getting your hand on. Here are some things to look for on the label when you’re confronting rows of sunscreen screaming out “doesn’t sting”, “sweatproof”, “nontoxic”, and “high SPF”.

Check Your Skin Condition 

When it comes to a sunscreen that won’t cause breakouts and other skin irritations, physical sunscreen is your best option if you have sensitive, oily, and acne-prone skin. In another corner, chemical sunscreen is a stellar choice due to its smooth enough finish to apply under makeup and absorb quickly into your skin. It’s a beautyholic’s biggest fear to have a makeup meltdown with foundation running down your face throughout the day.

Consider Your Activities

Your sunscreen should be mineral sunscreen due to its water-resistant properties if you’re doing water sports or water-related activities. Also, check how long will it stay on your skin by the minutes it claims on the bottle. On the other hand, chemical sunscreen is your go-to skin protection if you’re always under the sun. For the best protection, practice applying sunscreen every 40-80 minutes.

Look For A Broad Spectrum Sunscreen 

Have you ever thought about UVA and UVB in sunscreen? Well, then it is important to get a sunblock that provides skin protection against both rays. Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA rays that cause the sign of ageing and UVB rays that cause burning. This is how you maintain your age-proof skin and complexion.

At Least SPF 30, No Less

Pay less attention to the chemical vs physical sunscreen debate and let’s focus on finding a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. And sorry to break the news, there’s no sunscreen offering 100% skin protection but with proper SPF 30 application, it protects your skin about 97% from UVB rays. That is not bad at all, right!? You can even up your skin protection game to SPF 50 or 70 if you spend a lot of time outdoors.

Sunscreen vs Sunblock: What’s The Difference?

differences between sunscreen and sunblock
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“Sunscreen” and “sunblock” are often used interchangeably and it can be very confusing when there are too many different types of sunscreen on the shelves. So, let’s decode the sunblock vs sunscreen fine print.


Sunscreen protects against UVA rays which cause skin damage. The organic chemical compound in sunscreen absorbs the sun’s rays and releases the heat before it can penetrate the skin.


Sunblock generally speaks for its name. It blocks the sunshine by sitting on top of your skin and then reflecting them. It was also formulated to prevent skin damage caused by UVB rays (sunburn).

Is Sunscreen Or Sunblock Better?

Sunscreen and sunblock are both amazing sun protection. When weighing the pros and cons, you need to understand the way they work, the ingredients, the application, as well as your skin conditions.

Pros and cons of sunscreen:


  • They are broadspectrum (protect your skin against UVA and UVB rays)
  • Prevent skin from getting red from sunburn


  • Contains chemical ingredients
  • May cause irritation or allergic reaction if you have sensitive skin

Pros and cons of sunblock:


  • Great for sensitive skin
  • It blocks heat/ray rather than absorbing it


  • Usually doesn’t protect the skin against UVB

You know what’s best for your skin at the end of the day. As long as your skin protectant does its job, is water-resistant, and is non-irritating, you’re good to go all year round. If you prefer sunblock rather than sunscreen, worry not as you can easily find a broad-spectrum sunblock in the market.

Pick The Best Type of Sunscreen For Your Skin For Maximum Protection!

different types of sunscreen
Credit: HealthPRO Plus Malaysia, MyAdore, iiMONO Living, La Roche Posay,, Kao Official Store, Dermaskinshop Official Store, and Strawberrynet Official Shop on Shopee Malaysia

Slip, slop, and slap! Now that you know everything about the different types of sunscreen including the differences between sunscreen and sunblock, it’s time to start your love affair with sunscreen. For the best results, choose the best sunscreens for you according to skin type; dry, oily, normal, or combination. You may not see the benefits right away, but in 10 years you’ll be thanking yourself for adding a few drops of that liquid gold into your daily skincare routine. Not sure how to layer your sunscreen? Check out the correct order to apply skincare products to maximise absorption.

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