Do I pick up a sun block or sunscreen? When I last went shopping I merely laughed this question off – there really was no difference between the two. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Do you think that planning a summer outing by the beach only consisted of packing the right clothes? It is essential that you get the right sun protection too. So is sun block going to be your choice or will it be a sunscreen?
Firstly, there is a real and relevant difference between a sun block and sun screen. Guess what! Their names tell you the difference-I didn’t think it could be that simple, could you? Simply put, a sunscreen is a cream (lotion, spray) that filters the sun’s rays while a sun block on the other hand is a stronger barricade that doesn’t let any of the sun’s rays touch your skin.
How does a sunscreen work? A sunscreen will allow some UV rays to touch your skin. It is much like a window which lets sunlight in but keeps everything else out. The amount of UV rays reaching the skin on applying your sunscreen is determined by its SPF factor. The spectrum of your sunscreen is also responsible for keeping the rays from damaging your skin. A broad spectrum sunscreen will effectively manage to keep most of the UVA and UVB rays from affecting your skin. You can get sunscreens with SPF’s as high as 45+ and as low as 3 and 4. The main ingredients in a sunscreen are titanium oxide, dioxybenzone, benzophenones, cinnamates, salicylates and avobenzone. Few ingredients present in sunscreens might cause skin allergies in persons with sensitive skin. Some sunscreens contain PABA (para amino benzoic acid) which should be avoided at all times. PABA causes skin allergies and could lead to skin cancer by causing damage to the DNA.
The barrier that a sunscreen creates is almost invisible. They are much easier to use and come in a variety of textures. You have sunscreens for oily, dry and normal skin. You can get organic sunscreens, spray on and gel based ones. You have sweat and water proof variants. Sunscreens are the best everyday sun protection you can offer yourself.
How does a sun block work? Sun blocks are much thicker, goopy and opaque than sunscreens but give greater sun protection. They are comparatively harder to spread evenly on the skin. However, there are some sun blocks available today which are lighter and allow even application. But these need to be reapplied at regular intervals. A sun block has a physical sunscreen element of SPF 12 or higher along with three main active ingredients; titanium oxide, zinc oxide and iron oxide. Typically they are used on areas that get burnt easily during harsh and prolonged sun exposure. You’ll find a lot of athletes and sportsmen using sun block like war paint! to protect the sensitive zones of their face such as the nose, cheeks and lips.
Your decision to buy a sun block or a sunscreen rests entirely on the type of activity you will be indulging in and the overall state of your skin. Carefully assess your needs before you make your purchase.
Are you a sun block person for is it a sunscreen for all the seasons? Write in:)