Sunscreen vs. Sunblock What You Need to Know to Decide!

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Who doesn’t love summer and all the activities outdoors?  Just remember, while you are enjoying yourself, your precious skin might be suffering! Even if you don’t go to the beach, you still need to arm yourself with sun protection when you are outside hiking, biking or playing sports. Even if it seems cloudy, the sun’s harmful UV rays can still penetrate the fluffy clouds and make their way to your skin.

Basically, there are two main types of the sun’s rays that affect our skin – UVA and UVB. The UVB rays only reach the top layers of the skin which are typically create sunburn and tanning of the skin.  However, aside from sunburn concerns are the squamous and basal cell carcinoma risks – two types of skin cancers which can result from overexposure to UVB. On the other hand, UVA rays penetrate the deeper layers of the skin. UVA rays are also responsible for tanned skin and can even penetrate glass and light clothing. While some believe having a tan looks healthy, the tan actually indicates that your skin has experienced a cellular injury. Skin challenges such as wrinkles, blemishes, blotches, and rough textures are caused by UVA cellular damage.  Basically accelerating aging.  More importantly, overexposure to UVA rays can jeopardize your skin and make it prone to melanoma – the deadliest type of skin cancer.

The solution?  To prevent accelerated aging,  skin injury and even skin cancer, just make sure to have sunscreen or sunblock that offers BOTH UVA and UVB protection, also known as “full spectrum” on a daily basis.

Both sunscreen and sunblocks names are often interchanged, and both offer protection but select one based on the ingredients that are right for you.

Sunscreen’s job is to absorb the UV rays.  These are often “chemical spf’s” and many of them (avobenzone, avobenzene, oxymethylcinnemate etc) can cause irritate the eyes or even cause skin irritation.  With this type of sunscreen, the harmful rays are sopped up even before and absorbed by the product on the skin.

Sunblock, on the other hand often has a slightly thicker consistency and stays longer on the skin. These are often referred to as “physical blocks” such as titanium and zinc oxide.  These are more natural and less sensitizing options.  As a matter of fact zinc oxide even helps reduce inflammation and acne, as you may remember this ingredient is in diaper rash creams for a reason.  When these types of blocks are applied,  the UV rays are deflected before your skin takes them in.

For the most protection, either should be applied thirty minutes before going outdoors.  If you will simply go out to do basic tasks, wearing a sunscreen may be fine. They are generally light formulations and be worn underneath makeup. You can use an SPF-infused product that not only offers protection but also improves luminosity as found here. If you will engage in sports that will require you to stay under the sun for hours like swimming, opt for sunblock. Sunblock products are also better choices for those with sensitive skin, and reactive skin because they are typically chemical-free.

Also consider the number of hours that you will remain outside.  It is recommended that you reapply the product every one to two hours during the span of your stay. Other than sun protection products, bring additional precautionary items like eyeglasses and hats.  Even clothing.

At the end of the day, don’t skip your skincare routine! Nourish your skin with soothing antioxidant infused beauty products that will offer smoother, healthier, and more radiant skin.  Have fun and be safe under the sun!

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  1. Ginney Harris says:

    Excellent post. I’ve been trying to choose a sunscreen and this is exactly the info I needed! Thanks!

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