Sunblock vs. sunscreen

By December 3, 2014Skin

Is there a difference between sunblock and sunscreen, and, if there is, which one is best for my family?

There are so many choices when it comes to sun protection – lotions, creams, all with different sun protection factors (SPF) – here’s a breakdown to help you make the best choice for your family:


Sunscreen contains chemicals that absorb UV radiation and reduce the amount that reaches your skin. Many of the chemicals used for SPF such as avobenzone, avobenzene, oxymethylcinnemate can cause skin irritation or even irritate the eyes. Look out for Parsol 1789 in many of today’s sunscreen brands – if you have sensitive skin, avoid it.


Sunblock contains ingredients that physically block the sun (both UVA and UVB). You’ll see that it’s often much thicker than a sunscreen, as it forms an actual barrier over your skin.

Look for Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide as the main ingredient. This may be a better choice for your family if you have anyone with sensitive skin since titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are less irritating than Parsol 1789 found in sunscreen. Most brands of lotion are a combination of both sunscreen and sunblock, so if you’re looking for a true sunblock try Blue Lizard Australian Sunblock or Neutrogena Sunblock.

Sunblock vs Sunscreen:

  • Most products are a combination of both sunblock and sunscreen, so read the ingredients carefully if you battle with sensitivity.
  • Cancer warning! Be sure to look for a sunblock or sunscreen that does NOT contain vitamin A and its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate, as this increase your risk of the very skin cancer that sunscreen is used to prevent.
Read  Keep your skin tone even this summer


Family Health and Nutrition