Chemical Sunscreen Vs Sunblock

Chemical Sunscreen Vs Sunblock
Sunscreen and sunblock are sometimes thought to be interchangeable terms. In reality, while these products perform similar tasks they go about it in very different fashions.

General Use

Sunscreens and sunblocks are formulated to protect our skin from the damaging ultraviolet radiation of the sun. Even on cloudy days UVA rays can age our skin and UVB rays can burn our skin.


Sunscreens are chemical filters. These clear lotions bond with the skin and absorb some of the UVB (and sometimes UVA) rays before they can penetrate the surface of the skin. Think of them as a screen door on a house, stopping some things and allowing others to pass through.


A sunblock is an actual physical barrier that you spread on top of your skin. These opaque creams typically contain metallic compounds such as zinc oxide or titanium oxide which completely reflect both UVA and UVB rays. If sunscreen is a screen door then sunblock is a solid oak door, totally separating your skin from the sun.

Pros and Cons

Sunscreens provide less overall protection, but are cosmetically less obtrusive. They can even be worn under make-up. Because they are clear, however, it can be difficult to know when your skin is adequately covered.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

All sunscreens are rated according to their ability to protect you from UVB rays. A sunscreen with an SPF of 10 would allow you to spend 10 times as long as normal in the sun without burning.

Article Written By Robert Leonardi

Robert Leonardi is a freelance writer specializing in eye care and general health-related articles. He is the president and CEO of a chain of eye care centers and has more than 30 years of experience as a licensed optician and administrator in the optical industry.

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