Sunscreen vs. Sunblock: What’s the Difference?

As summer approaches, protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays becomes a top priority. You’ve probably heard the terms “sunscreen” and “sunblock” used interchangeably, but did you know they are not the same? Understanding the differences between these two types of sun protection can help you make the best choice for your skin and lifestyle.

Sunscreen: The Chemical Protector

Sunscreen, often referred to as a chemical sunscreen, works by absorbing ultraviolet (UV) radiation and converting it into heat, which is then released from the skin. This process helps to prevent the UV rays from penetrating and damaging the skin. Chemical sunscreens contain organic (carbon-based) compounds such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. These ingredients are designed to absorb UV radiation effectively.


– Less visible on the skin.

– Often formulated with additional skincare benefits such as moisturizers or antioxidants.

– Suitable for daily use under makeup.


– Can sometimes cause skin irritation or allergic reactions, especially in sensitive skin.

– Requires time to become effective after application.

Sunblock: The Physical Defender

Sunblock works by sitting on top of the skin and physically blocking or reflecting UV rays. It acts as a barrier that prevents the rays from penetrating the skin. Sunblock typically contain mineral-based ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals provide broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.


– Provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays.

– Less likely to cause skin irritation, making it ideal for sensitive skin.

– Effective immediately upon application.


– Can feel heavier and leave a white cast on the skin, which some people find unappealing.

– May be less suitable for daily use under makeup due to its thicker consistency.

Remember, regardless of which you choose, the key to effective sun protection is regular application and reapplication throughout the day. Stay sun-safe and enjoy your time outdoors!

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Medical Disclaimer:

*The information given in this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.