Sun­block vs. Sun­screen

Food - - Beauty -

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.

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