Filipino woman in a white shirt taking a selfie

Choosing the right can be intimidating. With so many factors to consider, where do you even begin? For starters, differentiating sunscreen vs. sunblock can help. What are they anyway and does it matter which one you use? Here, we shed light on these two forms of sun protection and how to pick them.

Sunscreen vs. Sunblock: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between sunblock and sunscreen is how they protect the skin. Sunscreens use a chemical process where UV light is absorbed and converted into heat, then released from the skin. It absorbs UV rays before your skin can catch anything, saving it from photodamage.

Sunblock, on the other hand, physically blocks UV rays with mineral ingredients. These include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. It shields the skin from the sun. This type of SPF is known (and disliked) for the white cast that it leaves on the skin. Sunscreen, on the other hand, disappears upon application.

Most sunscreens protect the skin from both . Sunblock products, meanwhile, are mostly meant to prevent sunburn from UVB exposure. To find out if your product can prevent both photodamage and sunburn, look for the “broad-spectrum” on the label. This means it passed the US Food and Drug Administration’s test for UVA and UVB protection.

POND'S UV Bright Sunscreen is an example of sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. PA is short for Protection Grade of UVA, and the plus signs indicate the level of defense. This labeling system is mostly used in Asia.

For rejuvenated skin, try POND'S Age Miracle Anti-Aging Day Cream SPF 18 with Retinol C and Niacinamide for Skin Renewal. This prevents premature aging and addresses its early signs. It also protects the skin from external factors and stimulates collagen production. For the body, use Vaseline Healthy Bright SPF24 PA++ Sun + Pollution Protection Body Lotion to protect against UV damage.

How to Pick Your SPF

Sunscreen vs. sunblock? Consider your skin type and needs. Certain sunscreens have chemicals that can irritate sensitive skin. These can also have occlusive ingredients that can trap sweat and oil in your pores. To avoid , read our guide on choosing . On the other hand, as mentioned above, sunblock does leave a white cast that can mess with your skin color and makeup.

It all comes down to your skin’s needs and how a product makes you feel. Ultimately, shields your skin from UV rays. If your product accomplishes this, you’ve made the right decision. As a rule of thumb: it should have at least SPF 30, which blocks 97% of ultraviolet rays, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Note that you also need to both types throughout the day.

As the popular beauty adage goes, the best sun protection is the one you like to use. You are the winner in the sunscreen vs. sunblock debate, regardless of which one you choose.