Q&A: Sunscreen vs Sun Block
Q: Is there a difference between sunscreen and sun block?
A: As summer approaches, we stock up on sun-protective gear. A walk down the “seasonal” aisle at your local store can be dizzying. Which product to choose – a sunscreen or sun block? Is there a difference, or are they interchangeable? There are, in fact, somewhat “technical” differences between the two. Sunscreens, also known as chemical blockers, are absorbed into the skin, so they should be applied 10–15 minutes prior to going out in the sun. Sunscreens absorb ultraviolet (UV) light in certain wavelengths. The UVA rays can cause long-term effects and contribute to photoaging and wrinkles. UVB rays are responsible for short-term effects like sunburns. UV light can easily degrade sunscreen, so it’s crucial to reapply every few hours for maximum effectiveness. Avobenzone, oxybenzone, and Mexoryl™ are common ingredients in many chemical blockers these days.