Sunscreen vs Sunblock: What should I Use?

sun screen

Yes you read it right. Although both provide protection from sun, they are different products. Sun block literally block UV rays whereas the later absorbs UV rays. There are two types of sun protectants commonly known as physical sun protectant and chemical. Physical sunblock is “inorganic” containing inorganic minerals whereas a chemical sunscreen has organic UV filters. Regardless, in order to fully protect yourself from harmful UV rays, you need something that provides “broad spectrum” protection, which you may find out reading label of the product. Anything that is over SPF30 and PA+++ is good to go for approaching summer days.

What is this War between Physical and Chemical Sun Protectants?

Both products have proven to be effective as long as they are broad spectrum. The choice between the two is usually a personal preference.

Sun protectants classified as physical are made thicker because they block UVB rays that leave your skin burning. They also leave a white film and may feel heavy and or gooey. They are called sunblock because they literally block UV rays from penetrating into your skin. On the other hand, chemical sun screens are light weight and they are formulated to prevent UVA rays damage. They absorb UV rays before they damage your skin. They convert UV rays into heat energy and expel from the body.

What are UVA and UVB Rays?

UVA rays are long-wave radiation emitted by sun that are always present regardless of the weather. This is why dermatologists stress on wearing a sun protectant under the sky even if it is cloudy. UVA rays contribute to skin cancer, premature ageing, wrinkles formation and tanning. They are strong enough to pass through the window and dress you are wearing. UVB rays are short wave-length that cause burning, redness, irritation and itching.

For a long time, commercial industry addressed products that provide protection only against UVB rays leaving damage done by UVA rays’ unresolved. Today, with advancement in technology there are broad spectrum sun protectants available with SPF and PA+++ where SPF means sun protection factor and PA means protection grade of UVA rays. They provide protection from both UVAB rays yet it does not mean you stay 100% protected under the sun. Additionally, a broad spectrum sunblock also resist damage caused by digital radiation and environmental stressors.

What is better: Gel or Spray On?

Again it depends on your personal life style. Spray on sunscreens are easy to apply in a jiffy. The application is breeze for parents having little kids who squirm a lot. On the other hand, gels or creams sun protectants may feel a little gooey. However you may need frequent application if you are using a spray kind. Spray kind sunscreens are more suitable for the body since spraying on to the face may cause inadvertent inhalation which is definitely not good for the lungs.

Gel sunscreens are moisturising. Guerisson chemical gel based sunscreen gets readily absorbed without casting a white sheen. It has whitening properties hence it tends to work better on face.

How to Choose Sunblock?

In short, the thumb rule when choosing sun block is to always look for 3 things. It should be broad spectrum, SPF 30 or higher and water resistant.