Difference between sunscreen and sunblock


You must be thinking I’ve lost my mind talking about difference between sunscreen and sunblock! They’re the same! But no, they aren’t, there really is a difference and one that matters. Common belief has led people to think that sunscreen and sunblock are two different words meaning the same thing. It’s true that they share the common purpose – that of shielding the skin from the sun, but there are certain important points that differ the two. Let’s look at some of them.

Also read: What is your sunscreen type?

Screening the sun:

The good old sunscreen contains ingredients that provide our skin with a screen of sorts, which filters the sun’s rays. You’d think that it’s a good thing, but the filter is actually allowing some of the UV rays to get absorbed into the skin. Now that can’t be a good thing, can it? UVA/B/C rays are harmful for our skin in their own ways. And if a lotion filters the sun restricting some of the UV rays, but allowing the others, it will still prove to be harmful for us in terms of skin cancer.

Also read: Grooming tips for men this summer

Blocking the sun:

On the other hand, a sunblock contains metallic elements that in a way reflect the sun’s rays away from us. Think of it as a metallic wall between you and the sun. It doesn’t allow the UV rays to seep into the skin as long as you keep re-applying it at regular intervals. This characteristic makes it more adept at preventing skin cancer than sunscreen.

Sunscreen only filters the sun's rays making it less likely to protect us from the cancer-causing rays

Sunscreen only filters the sun’s rays making it less likely to protect us from the cancer-causing rays

Ideal use of sunscreen:

Sunscreen must be used in countries that are located far from the equator, it is ideal for protecting against sun burns. People who do not venture out into the sun too much or for prolonged hours, can safely use sunscreen. Remember, even when you are in the safety of your own house, you must always apply sunscreen as it screens the radiation emitted from your tube-lights and television as well.

Ideal use of sunblock:

Sunblock is best used on very sensitive skin, as it contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are far less irritating to the skin than Parsol 1789 or Avobenzone used in sunscreens. If you live close to the equator, you must definitely use a sunblock everyday to protect your skin from the cancer-causing UVB and UVC rays.

Kids have very sensitive skin, so it's best to use a sunblock on them with an SPF 15 or more

Kids have very sensitive skin, so it’s best to use a sunblock on them with an SPF 15 or more

SPF (Sun Protection Factor):

An SPF is what lets you know how much protection you are getting from the lotion that you use. If you begin to turn red after 15 minutes of sun exposure then you must use a sunscreen or sunblock that contains an SPF of more than 15. A lotion containing SPF between 15-60 is ideal for hotter places. Anything lesser than 15 will not do your skin any good in terms of protecting it from the sun.

Also read: Tips to control Oily skin this summer

Nowadays, sun protection has taken an advanced route. It comes in the form of lotions, gels, sprays, wipes and also sticks. Choose smartly and stay sun-safe.

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