Sunblock v. Sunscreen and Product Reviews


Since it’s still summer, I think it is still appropriate to talk about sunscreen and sunblock.

This year alone,  my nose was sunburned 3 times since April!  The frustrating part: I slathered on sunscreen and reapplied like there is no tomorrow.  Yet, I still got burned. So, what have I done wrong?

The American Academy of Dermatology suggest the following: 

  1. Choose sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant, and provides broad-spectrum coverage, which means it protects you from UVA and UVB rays.
  2. Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors.It takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn.
  3. Use enough sunscreen.Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount you can hold in your palm, to fully cover all exposed areas of your body. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin.
  4. Apply sunscreen to all bare skin.Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of your feet and legs. For hard‐to‐reach areas like your back, ask someone to help you or use a spray sunscreen. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide‐brimmed hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.
  5. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to remain protected, or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating.

I have used the following product last year religiously every day before I apply my make-up and didn’t get burned once:

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer® Liquid Daily Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 70:

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 10%,Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 7.5%, Oxybenzone 5%.

However, when I used it again this year, it didn’t work like it was before.  I went to local pharmacy to ask for sunscreen / sunblock recommendations. The first question she asked was:

Has the sunscreen been sitting in your drawer since you used it last year?  

I was quite embarrassed when I answered:

Yes, I haven’t touched it since last summer.

She then went to inform me that if the sunscreen was opened for a year, it may lose its’ effectiveness over time.  Hence, I got burnt because the sunscreen I put on was not effective anymore.   Plus, I need to put it on 20 – 30 minutes before I head out so it can be absorbed into my skin.

I ended up buying a BRAND new bottle of Neutrogena for $11.99  AND followed the instructions thinking it would work this time.  Boy was I wrong.  I got burnt the THIRD time!   By this time, I am pretty sure it is NOT the effectiveness of the sunscreen.

I did some research and found out the difference between sunscreen and sunblock:

SUNSCREEN: uses chemicals to protect your skin by absorbing and reflecting UV rays.  It usually have ingredients such as: Homosalate and Oxybenzone.  

SUNBLOCK: uses physical or inorganic ingredients (such as Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide as the main ingredients to reflect and scatter the UVA and UVB rays and acts as a barrier between your skin and the sun.

Since I didn’t have any luck using sunscreen, I thought I will give sunblock a try.  I headed to Sephora when I was in Vegas and picked up the travel size version of Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream for $19 USD – just to test it out.

It contains the following active ingredients: Active: Octinoxate (7.4%), Titanium Dioxide (2.2%), Zinc Oxide (16.3%).

SHISEIDO Ultimate Sun Protection Cream+ Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ For Face

My thoughts:  I don’t really like this product because it makes me PASTY WHITE.  It’s really hard to wear foundation with it because the sunscreen just literally sits on top of my skin.  Since I was in Vegas, I didn’t mind the pasty white look because I really did not want to get burnt a 4th time!

When I got back to Vancouver, I did some more digging and decided to try the organic stuff.  I  went to Whole Foods and spoke to a really nice lady there in the health / beauty section and she suggest that I try Juice Beauty’s SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer (Sheer) for $29.   I tested it out on my hand and it seems to absorb into my skin fairly well without leaving a white trace.  The active ingredients: Zinc Oxide 20%

Juice Beauty: SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer (Sheer)

My thoughts: I really LOVE this product because there is only ONE active ingredient (compared to several active ingredients in the Neutrogena product) and IT WORKS!   No sunburns the past 3 weeks and I have been pretty active outdoors.  Though it is at a higher price point, I think I love my skin too much (I admit , I am a bit vain) to put my skin through another sunburn (especially on my face!).   If you are looking for a sunblock that is more natural and doesn’t leave white streaks on your skin, this is the product to use!

I guess between last summer and this summer, my skin got a wee bit more sensitive.  I probably will not use sunscreen anymore (don’t want to risk another sunburn) and will stick to using sunblock.

Do you have sensitive skin?  Do you use sunscreen or sunblock?

~The Money Pincher ~


2 thoughts on “Sunblock v. Sunscreen and Product Reviews

  1. Interseting! I knew there are either chemical or physical barrier options, but didn’t realise this is what differentiated ‘sunblock’ and ‘sunscreen’ – always figured they were synonyms.


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