This Article is From Jul 07, 2022

Sunblock vs. Sunscreen: Which One Is Best For You?

Sunscreen or Sunblock? In this article, we discuss different factors through which you can determine which is best for you.

Sunblock vs. Sunscreen: Which One Is Best For You?

Using sunblock at beaches or outdoors protects your skin from prolonged sun exposure

Protecting our skin from harmful UV rays is a necessity. As global warming increases and other factors worsen, taking correct care against the sun is essential. There are various steps you can take to avoid contact with the sun and avoid the adverse effects of UV rays on your skin.

One of the most commonly used ways to avoid UV rays' adverse effects is sunscreens and sunblocks. They are often used as synonyms and believed to be the same thing however, that is not the case. Sunscreens and Sunblocks might have similar functions but are very different, here's how:


Organic (carbon-based) compounds absorb UV rays, while inorganic substances make the light bounce away from the skin. Protection from the sun is provided by some inorganic compounds, such as minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They merely reflect UV rays in the same way that lighter-colored clothing reflects heat rather than absorbing it, as black or darker-colored clothing would. Organic compounds like avobenzone and oxybenzone are also found in sunscreens. These molecules absorb UV sunlight through their chemical bonds instead of physically repelling them. The components of the sunscreen gradually break down and release heat as the bonds absorb UV rays.


Sunblocks form a physical barrier that protects us from ultraviolet (UV) rays. It acts as a shield that rests on the skin's surface. Zinc oxide or titanium oxide are common ingredients in sunscreen. When applied to the skin, sunblocks are generally opaque and visible. Sunblock is a coating that bounces the sun's rays off our skin. It prevents the sun's rays from infiltrating our skin. 

Which one is best for you?


Sunblocks are often lathered on the skin and are noticeable while sunscreens are more natural-looking and are usually absorbed by the skin post-application.


Sunscreens might cause allergic reactions in acne-prone or sensitive skin. Whereas sunblocks do not cause allergic reactions and hence may be a better alternative for people with sensitive skin.

Proneness to acne

Sunscreens may cause your skin to break out. On the other hand, sunblocks in most cases do not cause acne. If you suffer from or are prone to skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea, sunscreens might not be fit for you.

Protection level

Although both sunscreen and sunblock work effectively in protecting the skin from the sun's UV rays, we need to understand the level to which they can provide protection. Sunscreens are encouraged if you need them for daily use and your sun exposure is limited and minimal. For example, if you are outdoors only to travel from home to work and back. However, in case of prolonged sun exposure, sunblock provides longer coverage. For example, if you are partaking in physical activities outdoors, sunbathing at the beach, etc. 

Skin-ageing protection

Sunscreens and sunblocks have proven to protect skin from pre-mature ageing that might be triggered by prolonged sun exposure. Unlike sunblock, sunscreen can be incorporated into our everyday skincare routine hence providing a shield from skin-ageing at all times. 

We encourage you to wear sunscreen or sunblock at all times if outdoors. Use what fits your needs the best and stay safe!

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.