sunblock versus sunscreen

What is the Difference Between Sunblock and Sunscreen?

Summer has finally made its appearance and we excitedly pull out our tees and shorts ready to head out. But before we do, we have to wear protection, sun protection that is. So will it be sunscreen or sunblock?

What are sunblocks?

In plain terms, sunblock acts as a barrier that shields you from the sun. Think of it as a mirror that reflects harmful UV rays or scatters UVB light. In other words, sunblock is a physical UV filter. The most common active ingredients are titanium and zinc oxides. These natural formulas offer the highest protection, best for sensitive skin an for prolonged sun exposure. The disadvantage is that these formulas are course, and leave white residue when applied on the skin.

What are sunscreens?

Sunscreen, on the other hand, is a chemical UV filter that the skin absorbs. When UVA rays make contact with your skin this type of sunscreen absorbs harmful UVA rays. Common active ingredients are avobenzene and oxybenzene. While these don’t offer 100% protection, remember that sunscreens work best when re-applied often.

Our final verdict

The takeaway is that in order to decrease the risk of skin cancer, you need to decrease the amount of UVA and UVB rays that hit your skin. Whether you decide to go for a sunblock or a sunscreen, make sure to choose the right SPF, re-apply often and generously. Manufacturers are no longer allowed to use the term” sunblock” commercially, so pay attention to the ingredients and choose the sunscreen that offers you most protection for your type of skin and activity.  If you want to learn more about active ingredients in sunscreens and their properties, read our article on mineral versus chemical sunscreens.