Sunblock vs Sunscreen vs Sun Smarts

July 20, 2016

Did you know sunblock and sunscreen should traditionally mean different things? 

person writing in notebook

Sunblock should refer to a product that blocks UVA and UVB radiation from penetrating the skin... like a shield! A sunblock is a physical filter.

Sunscreen should refer to a product that absorbs into the skin tissue. Ingredients such as oxybenzone and avobenzone absorb into the skin membrane and then also absorb UVA and UVB a giant sinking sand pit! A sunscreen is a chemical absorber.

picture of UVA rays vs UVB rays


Here are the ingredients that are physical filters and chemical absorbers...

list of FDA approved sunscreens

Why mineral sunscreens (sunblocks) are your BEST CHOICE for sun protection this summer

  1. They are physical filters not chemical absorbers
  1. They protect you against UVA and UVB radiation.
  1. They actually benefit skin health. Zinc oxide is a common ingredient in diaper rash creams, and commonly used to treat skin ailments such as rosacea.  
  2. They have very low toxicity ratings with the Environmental Working Group making them the safest ingredients for the skin and the environment. 

How does the SPF with zinc oxide lotions work?

  • Basically, the concentration of zinc oxide in the final solution will determine the level of SPF. 
  • The more zinc oxide you add, the thicker the lotion... the thicker the shield between the skin and the sun's radiation, which means a higher level of SPF.
  • You can make your own sunscreen using zinc oxide and a natural homemade lotion or come to a workshop

Miiko Skin co zinc oxide photo

Are there any RISKS associated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide?

YES... Do not inhale zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as a raw ingredient. If you make this product at home please wear a mask.

  • If the zinc oxide or titanium oxide is already mixed into a lotion or cream you are not at risk of inhaling the ingredient. This is only is you are working with the raw ingredient. 
Unfortunately zinc oxide and titanium dioxide could build up (bioaccumulate) in the environment over time. If the entire human population switched to these products with their current rate of consumption we would likely experience new problems in the environment. 

guy in mask protecting himself from inhaling zinc oxide

Our best sunscreen is a mindset...

  • Avoid sunburns and extreme mid-day sun exposure by seeking shade and wearing light clothing
  • Do not use sunscreen to stay in the sun longer!
  • Then use Safe Summer Skin Cream when you need too!


6 safety tips for sun protection

 Like what you see? Check out our complete Safe Summer Skin Guide available for a free download!