Sunblock or Sunscreen?

Fun in the sun is no fun when you get burned. If you are going to be out in the sun, protect your skin with a solution made for the job. What most people want to know is whether they should use sunblock or sunscreen for their bodies.

Some people probably haven’t thought about it before. They go to the store and to the display with the tanning oils and what not. If they see sunblock first, they pick it up. If they see sunscreen first, they pick that up instead. Most commercials push the SPF (sun protection factor) number so that is all we look at.

The truth is that the sun protection factor is important but so is the difference between sunblock and sunscreen. Both products are effective according to what you are looking for at the beach.

Let’s start with the sunblock. As the name suggests it is used for people who want to block the harmful rays of the sun. A sunblock is designed to keep all rays of the sun from penetrating your skin. With a sunblock, look for a high SPF to increase your protection from sunburn. Even people with darker skin need a sunblock when in the sun.

With children, a higher SPF is recommended. Their delicate skin can be easily damaged from long hours playing in the sun. Choose an SPF above 45.

Sunblock is thicker than sunscreen. As you would imagine, it needs to be thicker to do its job. Smooth it on in layers so you don’t get a pasty white look to your skin. Sunblocks contain zinc oxide as an active ingredient. It’s the same stuff used by lifeguards on their noses to prevent sunburn.

Sunscreen, on the other hand, is thinner and more easily rubbed into the skin. Sunscreen can be used by folks who want to get a little bit of a tan while they are protecting their skin. Sunscreen discriminately lets certain rays of the sun through to your skin. Some of the UV radiation is let through to tan the skin. Here, the lower the sun protection factor number, the more radiation is let through.

Sunscreen doesn’t last forever. If you plan on swimming at some point, be sure to apply your sunscreen about twenty minutes before taking the plunge for maximum effectiveness. After swimming, reapply sunscreen in case it all washes off.

What are your needs at the beach? Consider how long you will be on the beach, whether you are swimming or tanning and how sensitive your skin is before choosing between sunscreen and sunblock.

It is not good to use a sunscreen with too low of an SPF number, especially if you plan on being out in the sun for an extended period of time.