Most of us know the importance of using  sunscreen to protect our skin from ultraviolet rays(UV rays). However, there is often the misconception about sunscreen and sunblock. Although they might be similar in offering protection against the sun, they actually differ in their mechanism of action.


Just like what the name has suggested, sunblock works by physically blocking out the sun’s UV rays.  Hence, sunblock serves as a physical blockers of the sun’s UV rays. The two important active ingredients found in sunblock are Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide.

For Titanium Dioxide, it offers protection for UVB and short UVA rays while Zinc Oxide blocks out both UVA and UVB rays. Generally, in comparison to sunscreen, sunblock is better tolerated by most skin types as the active ingredients used in sunscreen might cause irritation to the skin. However, one major disadvantage of sunblock is that it tends to leave a whitish tint behind when applied to the skin.


On the other hand, sunscreen works by chemically absorbing the UV rays at the skin’s top layer and converting them into energy before they penetrate further into the skin. Some common chemical UV filters include Aminobenzoic acid derivatives, Benzophenones,  Cinnamates and Salicylates. Find out more here. In addition, sunscreen is able to offer coverage for the full spectrum of UVA rays and UVB rays

Sometimes, chemical ingredients are combined with that of physical blockers to obtain better coverage against UVA and UVB radiation.

With all these information, you are now able to decide whether sunblock or sunscreen is best suited for your skin!

Research shows that sun damage is the #1 cause of the skin’s premature aging. UVA & UVB (Ultraviolet rays) originating from the Sun produce up to 90% of premature “skin aging” symptoms. These UV rays penetrates the skin layers, damages it and causes wrinkles, freckles, pigmentation, discoloration etc.

UVB rays are the cause of sunburns and affect the skin’s outer layers. UVA rays penetrates deep into the skin layers & its intensity remains unchanged even at low-level exposures.

To minimize the damage, sunscreen is a must-have product for men & women of all ages.

5 Tips on using Sunscreen

i. Make sure it provides both UVA & UVB absorption

ii. Oil-free formulas are more suitable for the Singapore climate

iii. Apply sunscreen daily at least 15 minutes before sun exposure

iv. It contains emollients such as collagen, herbal ingredients etc, to moisturize & delay skin’s aging

v. Dermatologists recommend a minimum of SPF 30 for facial sunscreen

*Original Content from Porcelain’s #4 Newsletter sent out on 7 May 2010.

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-pauline ng