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Sunblock vs. Sunscreen

The SUN has been a source of healing for 1,000’s of years.  From its use in the early part of the 20th century for Tuberculosis to present day COVID, the sun, its rays, heat, and ability to activate the powerful vitamin (really a hormone) Vitamin D, is well documented. Too little sun exposure can deprive the body of various elements causing health issues, however, too much, can spark diseases such as cancer. Should we be screening the sun of it’s rays or blocking them totally?

Q: What’s the difference?

A: First you need to understand they both do the SAME thing, they stop the absorption of the sun’s UV rays from penetrating the skin.  The difference is HOW they do it.  Sunscreens use chemicals that absorb the UV rays while Sunblocks use mineral ingredients to physically block the UV rays.  Screens absorb, while Blocks, block, but the end result is the same, stop the rays from getting deep into the skin where it can cause damage. 

Q: Why do they both have SPF numbers?

A: SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.  The number next to it (SFP 15 or SPF 30) represents how long the Sunscreen/Sunblock will protect you from the UV rays of the sun.  Many think that the higher the number, the more potent, NO, it’s not about potency, it’s about duration.  Whether it’s 15 or 30, it has the same strength or protection, but applying 30 will allow you to stay out in the sun 30x longer (vs 15x longer) before you burn. 

Q: So how long can I stay out in the sun with SPF 30?

A: No idea.  Each of us can burn or slightly redden at different times.  It may take a person 3 minutes before they start burning without any protection, it may take another 5 minutes.  You then take that number, 3 or 5, then multiply by the number of SPF, so you know when to reapply.  Example, if it takes you 5 minutes to burn, then using an SPF 30, will give you 5 x 30 = 150 minutes before it wears off, so you need to reapply. 

Q: Which one is better for me?

A: If you’re using high end sun screens that are natural, tested, and uses organic chemicals, you’ll be fine.  But when it’s cheap sunscreens (usually found at convenient stores in big bottles!), they use cheap and often dangerous chemicals.  You need to avoid ingredients like Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Formaldehyde, Parabens, there is a great list at  SunBlocks are going to be mineral based they will either have Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide, simple minerals.  They are hard to rub on and will leave a residue at times, but no need for chemicals. 

Q: Which ones do you use?

A: Truth Treatment Systems – ZnO Block &  EltaMD Broad Spectrum UV Glow

Q. Any last comment?

A: You need to get at least 20min of unprotected sun, preferably in the midday (10am-2pm), every day to activate Vitamin D and the amazing health properties of the sun.  If you use Sunscreen, you MUST lather it on, do not skimp, it will NOT work if not fully covered properly and wait 10-15min before going out so it has a chance to absorb into the skin. Whether Sunblock of Sunscreen, when it doubt, RE-APLLY!