Picture this: You're searching for products to incorporate into your skincare routine and as you're reading the ingredients list you find the terms sunscreen or sunblock, and you may be thinking: Is there a difference between sunscreen and sunblock? And if so, which one should I use?
Sunscreen contains organic chemical compounds such as octyl methoxycinnamate, octyl salicylate, and ecamsule, relies on a chemical reaction to absorb UV light and convert it into heat, which is then released from the skin.
On the other hand, sunblock contains mineral ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that physically block UV rays. The main difference between sunscreen and sunblock lies in the way they protect the skin from UV rays. Sunblock is so named because it blocks UV rays by creating a physical shield, while sunscreen contains chemicals that absorb UV rays before your skin can.
Sunscreen and sunblock are both great forms of sun protection. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) doesn't suggest using one over the other, so long as the one that you choose protects against both UVA and UVB rays (if it does, it will say "broad-spectrum" on the label), has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and is water-resistant.
Fewer products these days are called "suntan lotion," but if you see any with this label, avoid them. They usually have an SPF of less than 15 or they are oils that don't protect you from the sun at all.
Many sun protectants have a combination of sunscreen and sunblock, so consider taking the time to review the label before buying and adding the product into your skincare routine. Don’t forget is always important to have enough sun protection and find the right products that work well for your skin type.