Celebrating the Seasons

Sunblock vs. Sunscreen,
Do You Know the Difference?

Fun in the sun, that's what summer is about! But too much sun is not safe. Did you know that a fair-skinned person burns within 20 minutes? As you head out to play, be sure to lotion up and protect your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays.

Sunblock

Sunblock does exactly what it says: It blocks the sun and its rays. Sunblock is a protective barrier usually made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. You know it by the stark white layer it leaves when spread it on the skin. Ridiculous looking? Yes, but it works. And now there are transparent products that are cosmetically more appealing.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen comes as a lotion, gel, ointment, or cream. It contains chemicals that reflect, scatter, and absorb ultraviolet radiation, manipulating the sun's rays to prevent damage. The amount of protection a sunscreen provides is based on the SPF (sun protection factor). Theoretically, the number translates to the extra amount of time you can spend outdoors before burning. Using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, you can stay out in the sun 15 times longer than you could without it. In other words, if you're that fair-haired person who burns in 20 minutes, you can in theory stay outdoors 15 x 20 = 120 minutes, or 2 hours, before you'll burn. The reality is that sunscreen can rub off or be washed off with sweat or after swimming. Always err on the side of caution and reapply as necessary.

  • SPF: 2-11: Minimal protection
  • SPF 12-29: Moderate protection
  • SPF 30+: Highest/longest protection

Also Remember:

  • 80% of sun damage occurs before age 18
  • The most damaging rays occur between 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • 80% of damaging UV rays can get through clouds
  • UV rays bounce off sand, water, and decks
  • Tightly woven clothing offers more protection
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