Q:

What is the difference between sunblock and sunscreen?

A:

Sunscreen is a chemical protection while sunblock is a physical protection. Sunblock physically blocks ultraviolet (UV) rays while sunscreen absorbs the rays.

Sunscreens and sunblocks are important in protecting the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. The SPF, or sun protection factor, denotes how effective a cream is at absorbing UV rays.

Sunblocks are always a thick, opaque cream containing ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The physical protection blocks forms of UV rays including UVA and UVB. Sunblocks are often cosmetically unappealing as they are visible, difficult to wash off and messy. Sunblocks are recommended for people with an unusual sensitivity to UV rays. Sunblocks cannot be quantified by SPFs as they reflect the rays rather than absorbing them. The SPF of a sunblock is greater than 30.

Sunscreen is a cream which forms a thin, colorless film on the skin that acts as a filter against UV rays. Ingredients in a sunscreen filter reduce and absorb harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Both creams should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to ensure protection. Sunscreen or sunblock should be used if exposed to sunlight for longer than 20 minutes.

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Related Questions

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    Does sunblock have expiration dates?

    A:

    According to Mayo Clinic, sunblock does have an expiration date, and it is usually found somewhere on the bottle. Not all sunblock has an expiration date listed, but typically it is still acceptable to use it three years after first usage.

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  • Q:

    What is the difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50?

    A:

    Higher SPF ratings generally mean better protection from the sun's ultraviolet B rays, so SPF 30 sunscreens provide protection from 97 percent of UVB rays and SPF 45 or higher sunscreens block 98 percent. The SPF rating, however, does not signify how much protection someone gets from ultraviolet A rays, which are also linked to skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

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  • Q:

    How is sunburn treated?

    A:

    The American Academy of Dermatology recommends treating sunburn with a moisturizer that contains soy or aloe vera. A cold wet towel can also be applied as a compress to the skin several times daily, and the pain of sunburn can also be alleviated by taking cold showers.

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  • Q:

    How do you turn a sunburn into a tan?

    A:

    A sunburn should naturally turn into a tan if peeling can be avoided. To turn the sunburn into a tan, use healing remedies to avoid the skin damage that results from peeling.

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