Do you know the difference between sunblock and sunscreen? This holiday weekend, you’ll probably be applying one or the other to you or your children… hopefully this helps you keep them straight:
Sunblock – physically blocks the sun (both UV-A and UV-B parts of the light spectrum) from penetrating your skin. You will see ingredients like Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide, and the sunblock will likely stay on white or some other color. Some newer sunblocks use “micronized” zinc oxide and rub on clear.
Sunscreen – Chemically absorbs UV-A and UV-B to prevent them from being absorbed by your skin. These have all sorts of chemical variations that are hard to pronounce, like ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate or octocrylene, that may or may not be secretly killing you.
Want to see how your sunscreen stacks up against others in terms of sun protection but also chemical safety? The Environmental Working Group has you covered, see there 2015 guide here:
If you want to jump to their “Hall of Shame”, it’s located here:
In reality, your sunscreen likely includes a "sunblock" ingredient, and the EWG seems to have dropped "sunblock" from its terminology, so I think the rest of us can too.
Have a safe and fun 4th of July weekend, hopefully somewhere in the sun.