How often have you skipped to notice that there are two types of skin protection creams: sunscreen and sunblock? Now, try and recollect how often have you treated these words as synonymous and bought the product anyway? Well, we've all been there at least once or twice, but here's a fact: sunscreen and sunblock are NOT the same things. Shocker, right? Feel like you've been living under the rock for all these years? Do not worry, here are some differences between the two products that you should know.
Sunscreen is composed of compounds like octyl methoxycinnamate, and ecamsule. These chemical compounds are responsible for absorbing the UV light (as it falls on the skin) and converting the light into heat. Sunblock, on the other hand, generally comprises titanium dioxide whose job is to physically block UV rays. The name 'sunblock' also comes from the fact that it blocks a physical shield on the skin to protect against UV rays.
While sunscreens were originally created to protect against UVA rays which cause damage to the skin, sunblocks, on the contrary, are also formulated to protect your skin from facing the brunt and burn of UVB rays. However, nowadays, both sunblock and sunscreens help prevent sunburn and aging.
The best way to apply sunscreen is to rub it because it works well only if absorbed by the skin.
This is, however, not the case with sunblock. It doesn't get absorbed into your skin but it sits on top of it forming a physical barrier. For the same reason, sunblock creates a white mask on the skin while sunscreen isn't visible at all, thanks to its ability to absorb into the skin. While you're at it, keep in mind to spread the sunblock evenly to avoid getting tanned or sunburned on spots you might have missed.
Weighing The Pros & Cons
Both sunblock and sunscreen have their own pros and cons. However, you must pick one depending on your skin type, age and exposure to the sun.
Some chemicals in sunscreen can cause irritation and therefore it should be avoided by people who have sensitive skin. Here's where sunblock helps because it doesn't usually cause an allergic reaction. On the other hand, you can't always have a white cast on your face (a big disadvantage) if you are going out with your friends and therefore you rely on wearing a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 50.
Feeling enlightened? Next time you have to buy a sunscreen, do not settle for sunblock and vice-versa.