Although there is a difference between sunblock and sunscreen, most people assume that the two are the same product and use these words interchangeably. With the overwhelming choices of skin protection products available, finding the right product can be challenging. What most consumers don’t know is that there are distinct differences and benefits between sunblock and sunscreen. When it comes down to sunblock vs sunscreen, it is important to know the difference.
Sunscreen vs Sunblock
As the name suggests, sunscreen filters the harmful UVA rays your skin is exposed to when out in the sun. Sunscreen contains active chemical ingredients that have to be absorbed by the skin to be effective. This takes at least twenty minutes after application. It prevents and repairs any long-term damage that the rays may have inflicted on the skin. It is always recommended to apply sunscreen when you step outdoors. Since it has the consistency of a regular lotion, it is quick and easy to apply.
While sunscreen filters UVA rays, the primary job of sunblock is to protect your skin from the UVB rays. Sunblock will protect the outer layer of your skin by creating a barrier and reflecting all of the harmful rays from the sun. It is also much more beneficial for preventing sunburns. Sunblock is a physical block from the sun’s UV rays and it typically contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These compounds are what physically ‘blocks’ ultraviolet radiation at the skin’s surface. Unlike sunscreen, it does not have to be absorbed by the skin.
What about SPF?
SPF is the Sun Protection Factor. It is the percentage of UVB rays, which are the sun’s burning rays, that the sunscreen blocks. It is not indicative of the percentage of skin aging UVA rays that the formula protects against. This is another reason to reapply your sunscreen often and choose a sunscreen with a broad spectrum protection. It is roughly estimated as the amount of UV radiation it takes to burn your skin under the sun. Studies have shown that SPF’s efficacy remains steady for about an hour, but then it begins to drop after as the UV rays are breaking down many of the sunscreen’s ingredients. Regardless of your activities, it is recommended that you reapply your sunscreen or sunblock every two hours, more if you are sweating or swimming.
The Final Verdict on Sunblock vs Sunscreen
These days, most companies make products that have both sunscreen and sunblock properties with broad spectrum SPF. At the end of the day, it all depends on how much sun exposure your skin is subjected to and which type of product you prefer. For someone whose sun exposure is for barely an hour in total, a sunscreen would be okay. Someone going to the beach would probably opt for something a little stronger with a more direct protection against the sun like a sunblock with a high SPF.
Either way, make sure you are wearing some form of SPF whenever you’re headed outside. Even if it’s cloudy or overcast outside, you will still need to protect yourself from the sun’s rays to guard against sun damage and skin cancer.
Be Proactive about Skin Safety
Skin safety is not something that should be taken lightly. When it comes to sunblock vs sunscreen, it’s all about personal preference. What is important is that you are wearing some kind of skin protection. At MoleSafe, our approach is proactive and comprehensive. Our MoleSafe Skin Surveillance Program has the reliable accuracy to reveal skin cancer and melanoma at the earliest possible stage for fast, effective treatment. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.