Sunblock vs. Sunscreen
The best line of defence against skin cancer, without avoiding exposure altogether, is undoubtedly sunscreen or sunblock. While the terms seem interchangeable, and are often used as such, there is actually a difference. According to Claris Group’s Dr Reeves, sunscreen provides chemical protection, while sunblock is a physical barrier. “Sunblock is like having a concrete wall between you and the sun,” she adds. “Whereas sunscreens create a chemical barrier more like a window screen, which absorbs UV radiation before it reaches the dermal layer of your skin.” Sunblock tends to remain visible when applied and is a thicker consistency that is harder to wash off, while sunscreen is generally transparent and invisible. While both provide protection, Cancer Society’s Fiona Mawley warns there can be key differences between products. “We strongly recommend looking for a broad spectrum sunblock or sunscreen in order to protect against both UVA [longer wave] and UVB [shorter wave] rays,” she says.
Playing it safe
It’s also key to check the SPF, which indicates how long the product will protect you from ultraviolet radiation. Dr Reeves explains it is calculated in seven-minute increments, with SPF15, for example, providing 15 x seven minutes of protection (105 minutes in total). Even with SPF50, reapplication every two hours is recommended.
Try: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF50+, 88ml, $19; and Cancer Society Kids Pure SPF50+, 400ml, $18.