The Difference Between Sunblock and Sunscreen – And Everything Else You NEED to Know

The Difference Between Sunblock and Sunscreen

I know, I know…you’ve heard it a million times. We all need to lather on sun protection every day, no matter how warm or how cold it is. But do you actually do it? And when you do it are you doing it correctly? Here are some things you might not know…

* Never opt for an SPF under 15 or you will not be properly protected again the burning and skin cancer-causing UVB rays.
* Make sure your sunscreen is labeled with UVA protection to prevent premature skin aging.
* Make sure the product you choose is a fit for your skin type so as to avoid dry skin or breakouts.
* Sunscreen (chemical) is NOT the same thing as sunblock (mineral). While both protect you from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun, sunblock works by reflecting the light from your skin (think of a mirror that is bouncing off the rays), whereas sunscreen coats your skin, and acts like a sponge and absorbs the damaging ultra-violet rays to protect your skin. Sunblock works immediately. Sunscreen needs 15 to 20 minutes before it will actively protect your skin from damage.
* There is no risk in putting “too much” sun protection. This is unlike treatment products that can be lathered on too thickly, and then the skin can’t absorb it. That said, there’s no need to be wasteful. If you’re applying sunscreen you’ll need about an ounce to cover your whole body and face. If you’re using sunblock you need about a third to half as much to get the stated SPF protection.
* Sun protection products should have an expiration date, but you can use them a year (or more) after the date. The expiration date is the amount of time that the manufacturer demonstrated and tested that the product still works, but across the board, dermatologists say it will work longer.
* Dermatologists say to opt for any consistency (foam, lotion, etc.) that will get you to use sun care regularly. The one exception? Sprays, as people often miss critical areas when applying them.
* For the best protection apply your sun care before makeup or any other skincare product.

The Difference Between Sunblock and Sunscreen

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t! Here are sun care products that you can lather on stress-free (no matter your skin type!).

1. Dermalogica Protection 50 Sport SPF 50 (on Ulta for $33): Even people who complain about hating sun care because of the texture will love this lotion-like product. Better yet, it’s non-irritating if you’re prone to tearing eyes (particularly problematic if you’re working out outdoors). This is by far the best-feeling sports sun care product I’ve tried and it doesn’t have a scent.
2. Blisslabs Active 99.0 UV Protect SPF 30icon (at Bliss for $50): No one wants to weigh their skin down in the summer. This product offers a one-two punch as it protects while correcting past damage so you don’t need a separate anti-aging product by day.
3. L’Oréal Paris Advanced Suncare Invisible Protect Clear Cool Lotionicon (at for $10.99): Skip the spray and opt for this lotion. When it comes to frugal buys, this one is hard to beat. It absorbs quickly, is non-greasy, and doesn’t have a chalky feel.
4. Vichy sun care (prices vary): If you’re particularly worried about breaking out or have a breakout currently, try something from Vichy. The brand’s products are all super lightweight and won’t clog your pores. They’re also free of any artificial scents that might cause irritation. Just remember to opt for the lotions over the spray for optimal efficacy.


  1. April 8, 2015 / 4:19 pm

    Good advice. Sun protection is so important.

    One thing to add, make sure to choose a sunscreen/sunblock labeled “broad spectrum”. Our sunblocks are an example. This means you’ll get both UVA and UVB protection.

  2. Cat
    April 13, 2015 / 12:30 pm

    Another good one (for reasonable price): Coppertone Sensitive Skin sunscreen/sunblock lotion, Broad Spectrum SPF 50, hypoallergenic, fragrance free, water resistant (80 min.), with naturally sourced zinc oxide(14.5%).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.