Skin Matters

Sunscreen vs. Sunblock - What's The Diff?

It's time you learned the difference.

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Picture this: You go into a beauty store and head to their sun care aisle. You look at the bottles on the shelves, and most likely, grab one based on the SPF number you think you need. But guess what? It’s not just the SPF level that makes them different - it’s also their active ingredients. Read on to find out how you can read the fine print and discover the best type of sun protection you should be getting for your skin.

Let’s Get Physical…Or Chemical?

Sensitive skin types may want to opt for less irritating active ingredients while those prone to breakouts might want something that won’t clog their pores. So how does that factor into sun protection? It’s simple. There are two types of sun protection: a physical or a chemical blocker.
 

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Sunblock refers to physical blockers, and work by blocking or reflecting the sun’s rays to keep it from penetrating the skin. Most physical blockers are gentle on sensitive skin thanks to active ingredients like titanium dioxide (which work by blocking most cancer-causing UVB and UVA rays) and zinc oxide (which blocks out the full UV spectrum). Both types of ingredients have a thick opaque consistency that makes it more difficult to spread all over the body and often leave a white cast on the body. But that’s what also makes them last longer on your skin.

Sunscreen refers to chemical blockers, which work by filtering the sun’s rays using a combination of ingredients. These ingredients give you broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection when combined, and absorb harmful UV rays before they can penetrate your skin. Most people prefer this type, since chemical blockers are invisible on the skin. The drawback? If your skin is on the sensitive side, then you might be more prone to breakouts or allergies if you use this. And also, you need to make sure that the sunscreen you’re getting is photostable, which means that its active ingredients won’t break down after a few hours of sun exposure.

Use Your Sunscreen Or Sunblock Daily

In the end, whether you choose sunscreen or sunblock is dependent on your preference. But know that both will provide the protection your skin needs against the sun. Just make sure to apply a shot glass full (or two tablespoons) on all exposed areas of the body - a peso-sized dollop on the face alone - to get the full benefit of any product’s SPF. And of course, don’t forget to reapply - especially after swimming, sweating, or playing sports. 

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PDS is the only specialty society in Dermatology recognized by the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP). PDS is not an endorser of any product found in the site.


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