Sunblock vs Sunscreen Simplified

sunblock vs sunscreen

When it comes to skin protection, it is a common misconception that sunblock and sunscreen are the same. To further understand this, here is a Sunblock vs Sunscreen comparison.

After all, they both have the same purpose as they both contain what is known as sun protection factor or SPF. But the truth is these two commonly interchanged terms referring to sun protection agents are totally different from one another. Although they both work by preventing skin damage caused by the harmful rays of the sun, they vary in the way they protect the skin, in their available forms, in the specific benefits they provide and even in their disadvantages.

A sunblock is used to physically obstruct the UVA and UVB rays of the sun so that it does not pose damage to the skin. It protects the skin by scattering, reflecting, absorbing and blocking ultraviolet radiation. Due to its consistency, it is mostly used in small skin areas like the nose, cheeks and ears. On the other hand, a sunscreen chemically protects the skin from the ultraviolet rays of the sun particularly by filtering them to prevent them from acting on the skin.

The difference between the way sunblock and sunscreen protect the skin can be simplified by understanding the meaning of a blockage and a screen. As a blockage, a sunblock serves as an obstacle or a wall against the sun’s rays so that none of it reaches the skin to harm it. On the other hand, a sunscreen guards the skin from the sun’s rays but it doesn’t completely get rid of it. As such, there is still a certain amount of ultraviolet rays that touches the skin when a sunscreen is used.

Sunblock vs Sunscreen The differences

The difference between Sunblock and Sunscreen is not only evident in the method by which they protect the skin from the sun’s rays. They also vary in their available forms. A sunblock clothing, tree, cap and umbrella are examples of sunblock solutions that are not topical. These materials directly cover the skin to shield it from the sun.  Topical forms of sunblock containing titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, talc or red vetenary petrolatum are also available. On the contrary, a sunscreen is considered as a chemical protection against the sun. It commonly comes in lotion, ointment, cream, spray or gel form. It is also contained in lip balms and towelletes.

Sunblock vs Sunscreen also vary in terms of the specific advantages they provide to their users. The main advantage of sunblock is rooted from its titanium dioxide and zinc oxide content. These are considered safe minerals that do not cause skin irritation. Sunblock also provides stronger protection from UVA over sunscreen which is mostly designed to only shield UVB. Moreover, sunblock only lie on top and is not absorbed by the skin so there is a lesser chance to develop allergies from its use.

In contrast, sunscreen is created for cosmetic use that is why it has a better consistency. The skin also absorbs it which makes it unnoticeable on the outside. As such, most people are more comfortable in using sunscreen for a longer time compared to sunblock. Although the tendency of sunscreen to allow a certain amount of ultraviolet rays to be absorbed by the skin seems to be a disadvantage, those who want to achieve a bit of tan may find it beneficial.

Sunblock vs Sunscreen Disadvantages

Aside from its specific benefits, sunblock and sunscreen may also be different in the disadvantages that they have on the skin. The opaque color of topical sunblocks fully covers the skin which makes it highly visible when used. It can also cause stains on clothing. This may not matter to some but others find this unappealing. But, new formulations have already been invented containing micronized titanium oxide that developed invisible sunblock with good ultraviolet blocking capacity.

On top of its visibility, sunblock may also feel sticky and greasy and can clog the pores to cause other skin problems such as acne for users with oily skin. As for sunscreen, its main disadvantage is that it does not block UVA rays. As such, those who want to completely shield their skin from the sun’s rays are not recommended to use sunscreen. However, there are already newly formulated forms of sunscreen that contains a certain amount of UVA protection. Aveobenzone, Oxybenzone, and Octocrylene are the main ingredients of this special type of sunscreen.

The skin is a very important part of the body serving many essential functions. As such, it has to be taken care of at all times. One of the best ways to do this is to shield it from the harmful rays of the sun. Although the sun is a good source of vitamin D, over exposure to it can cause many changes to the skin that may eventually turn out to be harmful. In order to prevent skin problems from developing, having any form of sun protection is a must. In considering a sunblock vs sunscreen the right SPF for the given activity will usually lead one to the right decision in terms of which one to choose.