Sunscreen Vs Sunblock: How Are These Different From Each Other?

Sunscreen and sunblock are two different products that are used interchangeably. Know the differences between them.

Gandharv Gulati
Skin CareWritten by: Gandharv GulatiPublished at: Apr 21, 2021Updated at: Apr 21, 2021
Sunscreen Vs Sunblock: How Are These Different From Each Other?

Summers mean sun tan and since we cannot always wear full-sleeved clothes, applying sun protection lotion is the best idea. However, experts suggest that one should wear SPF in every weather to protect their skin from UV damage. SPF comes in both sunscreen and sunblock but how are these two different? Most of us either without knowing about them in detail. Here is everything you should know before using an choosing a sun protection product.

What Is Sunscreen?

Sunscreen is basically a chemical formula that gets absorbed into the skin and forms a protective layer to shield against UV rays. This minimises the damage caused to the outer dermal layer. Mainly, it is effective in preventing sun tan. In the longer run, using sunscreen can prevent skin damage and skin cancer. The common ingredients found in sunscreen are:

  • Octinoxate
  • Avobenzone
  • Oxybenzone
  • Mexoryl SX
  • Octisalate
  • Homosalate
  • Tinosorb S and M


Also Read: Know The Side-Effects Of Sunscreen On Skin And Tips To Use Sunscreen Correctly

How it works: A good sunscreen provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays. The ingredients absorb the radiation before it gets into the skin. A higher SPF or Sun Protection Factor is considered while buying a sunscreen to provide better coverage and protection.

What Is Sunblock?

Unlike chemical sun protection(sunscreen), sunblock is physical protection that forms a layer of protection on the outer skin to barricade the harmful UV rays. Sunblock is given the name because of its sun-blocking properties. It contains active ingredients and minerals that obstruct the path of UV rays by sitting on top of the skin. It mainly contains zinc oxide and titanium oxide that have a thick consistency with better coverage. Sunblock is best to use when you are exposed to harsh sunlight for long time periods.

How it works: Sunblock blocks the harmful UV rays before they penetrate into the skin. This is a physical formula that stays on the skin for a long time and can be mixed with sunscreen for better results.

Difference between sunscreen and sunblock

Here's all you need to know a sunblock works differently on the skin as compared to a sunblock. Know the difference and what should be applied for complete protection from sun: 

1. Application

You need to wait for at least 10-15 minutes to go out after applying sunscreen. This is because it takes time to get absorbed into the skin and provide the benefits. Sunblock, on the other hand, can be applied immediately before heading out as it is a physical formula that forms a physical barrier.

2. When and How To Apply

Sunscreen is relatively dilute than sunblock. It being a chemical barrier needs to be applied 15-20 minutes prior to heading out and requires reapplication every 2-3 hours. This is because it doesn’t provide long-lasting coverage.

Sunblock is a physical barrier that can be applied immediately. Since it is thick and opaque, it lasts longer on the skin and therefore, you don’t need to reapply for hours.


Also Read: 4 Common Sun Protection Mistakes While Using Sunscreen

3. Coverage

Sunscreen products are mainly for protection against UVA rays and they don’t provide a larger coverage. Sunblocks are meant to keep the skin safe from both UVA and UVB rays which means it gives better coverage and protection than sunscreen. You can get a full-spectrum product for higher coverage.

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