Sunscreen also known as a chemical 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. Sunscreen filters or screens the sun’s UV rays allowing some light in.

Sunblock is so named because it literally blocks or reflects the sun’s UV rays by forming a physical shield, sunblock contains mineral ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that physically block UV rays.  So the main difference between sunscreen and sunblock lies in the way they protect the skin from UV rays.

Sunscreen and sunblock also have different application methods. Because sunscreen only works when it’s absorbed by the skin, it needs to be rubbed in. But you can simply slather sunblock on since it acts as a physical barrier. You do have to apply sunblock evenly, though, since UV light can hit any exposed parts of the skin, no matter how small. If sunblock isn’t rubbed in, it normally leaves a white cast on the skin, while sunscreen disappears completely.

Generally, sunscreens are designed to protect against UVA rays, which promote skin damage. Sunblocks, however, are formulated to stop the damage caused by UVB rays, the kind that causes sunburn. But many sunscreens and sunblocks tick both boxes, helping to prevent wrinkles and sunburn.

Any side effects of sunscreen and sunblock?

Both types of sun protection have their pros and cons, for people with sensitive skin or skin conditions sunblock may be better because some of the ingredients in chemical sunscreen might cause irritation or an allergic reaction. Some sunscreens contain oil and can cause acne. If you have very sensitive skin, others might sting or cause itching. But ultimately, the best sun protection product is the one you like to use and works for your needs. If used correctly, the side effects of sunscreen should be minimal.

All sunscreens and sunblocks come with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor). The American Academy of Dermatology advises using an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97% of UVB rays. But remember, while higher SPF numbers block a little more of the sun’s UVB rays, no sunscreen can block 100% of them.

Today we see fewer suntan lotion products. 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.

What products does The American Academy of Dermatology recommend? 

Sunscreen and sunblock are both excellent forms of sun protection. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) doesn’t advise using one over the other. 

My dermatologist recommends for my sun-damaged skin, sensitive skin, or skin prone to eczema or rosacea, EltaMD UV Broad-Spectrum, it has a high concentration of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and offers both UVA and UVB protection. Take a look below in my Amazon store, click on sunscreen and you will find the top-rated sunscreens and sunblocks.

Remember, sunscreen isn’t just for your body, and dermatologists recommend wearing it all year round—not only when the sun is out. (Clouds can block some UV rays, but not all)

To go to my Amazon Store click this link:sunblock and sunscreen