Sunscreen vs. Sunblock: Understanding the Differences and Best Uses

Sunscreen vs. Sunblock: Understanding the Differences and Best Uses

When it comes to protecting your skin from the harsh Indian sun, the choice between sunscreen and sunblock can be puzzling. Both products are essential for safeguarding your skin, but do you know the difference between them and which one is best for your specific needs? In this guide, we will unravel the confusion surrounding sunscreen and sunblock, discussing their differences, uses, and the benefits they offer. 

The Basics

What is Sunscreen?

Sunscreen is a product designed to absorb or reflect the sun's harmful UV radiation. It contains organic (chemical) filters that disperse UV rays, protecting your skin from the sun's harmful effects. The primary purpose of sunscreen is to prevent UV rays from penetrating your skin.

What is Sunblock?

Sunblock, on the other hand, is a physical barrier that contains inorganic (mineral) filters such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. It creates a physical barrier on your skin's surface, blocking both UVA and UVB rays. Sunblock sits on top of your skin, reflecting and scattering the sun's rays.

Understanding the Key Differences

Difference Between Sunscreen and Sunblock

Sunscreen primarily absorbs UV radiation, while sunblock physically blocks it. Sunscreen contains organic filters, while sunblock contains inorganic minerals. Sunblock may leave a noticeable white cast, whereas sunscreen tends to blend more seamlessly with the skin. Sunblock is often water-resistant, making it a better choice for water-based activities. Sunscreen may need more frequent reapplication, as it can degrade over time, while sunblock remains effective until washed off.

Best Uses

A sunscreen lotion is ideal for daily use, especially when you are exposed to the sun for shorter periods. It's lightweight, non-greasy, and perfect for everyday protection. You can use sunscreen as a base layer under makeup for added protection against UV rays.

Whereas a sunblock is excellent for prolonged sun exposure and outdoor activities. It provides broad-spectrum protection and is especially beneficial for individuals with sensitive or allergy-prone skin. Use sunblock for beach days, hiking, or when you know you'll be outdoors for an extended time.

How to Use Sunscreen Effectively

To make the most of your sunscreen don't skimp on sunscreen. Use a teaspoon for your face and a shot glass amount for your body. Reapply every two hours, especially if you're swimming or sweating. Select an SPF level suitable for your skin type and expected sun exposure. Sunscreen is just one part of sun protection. Use hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing too. 

You can apply your sunscreen after applying a halal serum all over your face and neck for extra hydration, and then follow it up with your sunscreen. Make sure your sunscreen is always applied after your moisturiser and before your makeup.

If you are someone who wears makeup everyday and touching up your makeup with a sunscreen lotion is difficult. Therefore, make sure you touch up your makeup with the SPF compact powder. This will not only help you in reapplying your sunscreen, but it will also make your makeup look fresh.

Benefits of Sunscreen

Regular sunscreen uses significantly reduces the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. UV radiation can accelerate skin ageing, causing wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. Sunscreen helps maintain youthful-looking skin. Sunburn can be painful and damaging to your skin. Sunscreen minimises the risk of sunburn, providing relief and preventing skin peeling. Your sunscreen also helps in preventing the development of sunspots and uneven skin tone, keeping your complexion more consistent.

Debunking Sunscreen Myths

When it comes to reading and understanding about sunscreen, there are quite a few sunscreen myths out there which we are going to burst for you. 

Higher SPF is Always Better

While a higher SPF offers more protection, SPF 30 is generally sufficient for daily use. The key is reapplication.

Dark Skin Doesn't Need Sunscreen

People with darker skin tones are not immune to sun damage. Sunscreen is essential for all skin types.

Sunscreen is Only for Sunny Days

UV rays are present even on cloudy or rainy days. Sunscreen is a year-round necessity.

Powder based sunscreens do not work well

It does not matter if your sunscreen is lotion based or powder based. As long as it has been infused with SPF it is a good product for sun protection.

In the sunscreen vs. sunblock debate, the best choice depends on your individual needs and planned activities. Sunscreen is great for daily use, while sunblock provides robust protection during extended sun exposure. Regardless of your choice, consistent and adequate sun protection is vital for maintaining healthy and youthful skin.

Remember to reapply, choose the right SPF, and complement your protection with other measures like hats and sunglasses. Protect your skin from the Indian sun, and you'll enjoy the benefits of healthy, radiant skin for years to come.


When should I reapply my sunscreen?

For example, if your sunscreen is SPF 30 then you need to reapply it every three hours. And if your sunscreen is SPF 50, then you need to reapply it after every five hours.

Can I turn my sunscreen lotion into a strobe cream?

Yes, you can definitely turn your sunscreen lotion into a strobe cream by mixing a little amount of liquid highlighter. This will not only protect your skin from the sun's UV rays, but it will also give your skin a beautiful natural glow.

How can I reapply my sunscreen lotion over makeup?

The best way to reapply your sunscreen lotion over makeup is to use an SPF based compact powder. Or you can reapply it by mixing a little bit of blush with your sunscreen and apply it on your cheeks and for the rest of your face, you can mix a little bit of foundation with your sunscreen lotion and dab it using a wet beauty blender.