The sun is scorching down everything it can reach. The sky doesn’t even bear the hint of a downpour. The present case scenario shows no mercy and even the silver lining proverb won’t work here that well ( in case you’re wondering, it’s because there are no clouds in sight). The weather department doesn’t think the gutters will be overflowing any time soon.The leaves are curling up at the edges,losing their fresh green colour,transforming into coarse yellowish-brown death.The loo blowing doesn’t contribute much to the betterment of the situation. The Sun is your friend, but not exactly your best friend at the moment.

In two minds about what sunblock/ sunscreen to fend off the rays?

There lies the difference.
Sunblocks and sunscreens differ in more ways than one.

Let’s start with the first thing that comes to mind when we think of sunscreens or sunblocks – SPF.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is used to estimate the amount of UV radiation it normally takes to sunburn one’s skin with protective sunscreen. The “A” in UVA stands for ‘Aging’. The “B” in UVB stands for ‘Burning’.
Use this formula to figure out the appropriate SPF for you: “SPF Number x Time to Burn without Protection = Time to Burn with Protection”. For example: SPF 15 x 10 minutes = 150 minutes of protection.

Now we can move on to the differences and get to know our Sunscreens and Sunblocks better.

1. Basic Difference

There are two types of lotions in general – chemical and physical.
Sunblocks are the physical kind, in the sense that they harbour both organic and inorganic compounds and act as a physical barrier between the harmful UV rays of the Sun and the skin, by reflecting the rays.
Sunscreens on the other hand are chemical in nature, and is absorbed by the skin.
The sunscreen in turn, absorbs the rays and protects the dermal layer from being damaged.

2. What’s it made of?

What magical elements combat the sun is the frequently asked question.
Well, in case of Sunblocks, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are highly effective in protecting against both UVA (The “A” in UVA stands for ‘Ageing’ ) and UVB (The “B” in UVB stands for ‘Burning’) rays, the types of UV radiation that cause sunburn and skin cancer. Sunblocks contain metallic ingredients, such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or iron oxide, that physically block out the Sun. It is more effective in blocking out UVB.

Sunscreens on the other hand, usually contain benzophenones, which protect against UVA, and cinnamates and salicylates, which protect against UVB. You’ll see these ingredients listed as oxybenzone, octyl salicylate, or octyl methoxycinnamate, to name a few. Another ingredient to look for is ecamsule, which is a photostable sun protectant that blocks out photoaging UVA rays.

3. Which one is the better Protector?

This question has managed to give rise to many opinions and disputes to say the least, thus this will be a balanced analysis.

Sunblocks are more effective in the sense that they provide protection for a longer period of time than sunscreens. Sunblocks are effective as soon as they are applied and, because they remains on the skin surface, they can be applied immediately before sun exposure. Sunblocks provide more protection against UV radiation than sunscreens, but sunblocks are not measured with SPF units, states the AMF.

Sunscreens on the other hand are more in demand because it presents its users with broad-spectrum protection , that will protect against both UVA and UVB rays, where sunblocks are more useful in blocking out UVB rays. The SPF rating instils in the consumer a stronger inclination towards sunscreens because of its SPF ratings. It is recommended that sunscreens with at least SPF 15 ratings should be bought. Fairer people can aim for higher ratings like SPF 30 or 45 but they provide 97% and 98% protection respectively, so they’re more or less the same.

4. Preference

People in general choose sunscreens over sunblocks because of a very simple reason.
People prefer the transparent sunscreens over opaque white sunblock because no one wants to walk around like Tom Sawyer’s white-washed fence.
But finally, at the end of the day, you’re the only own who can decide what it is exactly that your skin needs. The level of activity that you engage in is a very important determinant in this scenario. If you sweat a lot or swim you have to keep on reapplying sunscreen, because however waterproof it may be, it wears off after a while.
Also, skin sensitivity plays a huge role. People with sensitive skin would fare well if they use sunblock instead of sunscreen since titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are less irritating than some ingredients found in sunscreen.

5. Proper Usage

Sunblock is effective as soon as it is applied and, because it remains on the skin surface, it can be applied immediately before sun exposure.

For maximum protection, Sunscreens must be applied 30 minutes before going out in the sun to allow the skin to absorb the protective chemicals. Sunscreen must be reapplied after swimming or sweating, even if the product is waterproof.

6. Should you slather or massage a small amount over a large surface area?

Contrary to belief, layering on both sunblock and sunscreen does not provide additional protection. The daily amount of sun lotion recommended is about 1 ounce (roughly the size of a shot glass). Studies show that on average, people use only 20%-50% the recommended amount of sunscreen, diminishing the quality of protection received. So be sure to slather liberally and allow time for absorption.

7. Benefits

Sunscreen or Sunblock use has been proven to help prevent melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma – two types of skin cancer. Diligent use of sunscreen can also slow or temporarily prevent the development of wrinkles and sagging skin.

8. Interesting facts

Mary Schmich’s column “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” was published in the Chicago Tribune on June 1, 1997. She later explained that the initial inspiration for what advice to offer came from seeing a young woman sunbathing and hoping that she was wearing sunscreen, unlike what she herself did at that age.

The concept of sunscreens or sunblocks is thus age-old. In earlier days people used a variety of plant products to help protect the skin from sun damage. For example, ancient Greeks used olive oil while ancient Egyptians used extracts of rice, jasmine, and lupine plants whose products are still used in skin care today. Zinc oxide paste has also been popular for skin protection for thousands of years.

Vitamin D is important for you, but not so, at the expense of torturing your skin.
Now you know how to brave this sultry heat and not get burnt in the process.
Flaunt your skin. Stay out longer. Sport that bikini or shorts without the fear of getting roasted in the sun. Be it a 40 degrees or 45, walk out of your home boldly. Stay out. Enjoy the beautiful summer without worrying about ugly tans. The Sun awaits.