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Sunscreen vs Sunblock

Hi Dermalovers! Yesterday, one of my patients at Premium Dermalove Batam asked me the differences between sunscreen and sunblock, which made me wondered, maybe my patient is not the only one. Maybe there are many people out there also are trying to find out the answer! In this particular article, allow me to share my knowledge to you based on my 5 years of experience as an aesthetic doctor. Afterall, I promise to give you some tips & tricks for choosing the best sunscreen and/or sunblock.


Just like our other body parts, our skin needs to be protected properly from the sun, due to the fact that an excessive sunlight may cause some harms and side effects. Even thou there are a lot of benefits from having a little of sunbathing, an excessive sun exposure may cause premature aging, skin cancer and sunburn. In order to protect the skin from the excessive sun exposure, we certainly need a protection. Nowadays, there are two types of sun protections, sunblock and sunscreen. Do you know that those two protectors have significant differences?


Sunblock is known as the physical sunscreen and it consists of minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that “physically blocking” the ultra violet light, whereas the chemical sunscreen contains several chemical materials like Octyl Salicylate, Octyl Methoxycinnamate, Oxybenzone, Avobenzone and Ecamsule, which may absorb UV rays and transform it as a heat, in order to avoid absorption to the skin. So, physical sunscreen is called sunblock because it literally blocks the UV rays from hitting the skin, while sunscreen works in a way that it absorbs the UV rays safely.


Based on the ingredients and how it works, sunblock and sunscreen have distinctive methods of application. Applying the sunscreen may take some time to have it properly absorbed, therefore it has to be rubbed nicely and slowly against the skin. How about sunblock? Since it works as the physical shield, it will directly protect the skin once it is applied. However, it is highly recommended to apply the sunblock evenly, since the UV rays may affect the skin that is unprotected. Normally, sunblock is water-resistance for the first 40 minutes and becomes ineffective once the skin is wet (sweat and/or water). Therefore, you need to reapply the sunblock in order to protect your skin from the UV rays.


Compared to Sunscreen, Sunblock is indeed a much safer choice for you who have sensitive skin, because several chemical materials in sunscreen may cause some allergic reactions, or skin irritation. Sunblock or physical sunscreen is also safer for all ages and since it is non-comedogenic, it is highly recommended for the acne prone skin.


Here are some tips on choosing the most suitable sunscreen or sunblock for your skin :

1. Choose SPF 30 or more

  • There is no way any sunblock or sunscreen may block the ultra violet for 100%. SPF 15 protects against 93% of UV rays, SPF 30 protects against 97%, and SPF 50 is about 98%. The higher the SPF, the longer sunblock/sunscreen protects you from the UV rays.

2. Based on the activity

  • In case you are more an outdoor-person, it is suggested to use a high SPF to protect your skin. If you are a sweaty person kind of type, chemical sunscreen is your top choice, since it works better than sunblock.

3. Based on the skin type

  • For the sensitive and acne prone skin, it is more advised to apply the sunblock against the skin since it does not consist of chemical materials that may irritate the skin. Another tip is that you should choose a water-based sunscreen if you have oily skin, whilst sunscreen with moisturizer if you have dry skin. Lastly, pay attention to the any additional ingredients of the products you are using is highly recommended.

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