If you were told that all sun protection products were created equal (as long as it’s mega high SPF, fair redheads), you were told a teeny white lie.
The words ‘sunscreen’ and ‘sunblock’ are not actually interchangeable. There are some clear differences, and for the sake of your skin’s health, we’re here to clear things up for you, because sun protection for redheads is just too important.
What is sunscreen?
Sunscreen is defined as chemical protection. It works by penetrating the skin and absorbing the UV rays before they can damage your skin’s dermal layers, meaning that it keeps most rays out but lets some in.
Sunscreen needs reapplying more frequently than sunblock, as the formulation weakens after sun exposure.
What is sunblock?
Sunblock, on the other hand, is basically a sun shield, and is known as physical protection in the sun care world. This is much stronger and more long-lasting than sunscreen, as it sits on top of your skin and acts as a barrier, nay, mirror, preventing any UV rays from getting through to your skin.
Don’t be fooled by its mighty description though – sunblock still needs reapplying, due to perspiration, contact with water and clothing, for example.
Aside from its increased protection, a reason for using sunblock is its formula of sensitive skin-friendly ingredients. Rather than active ingredients which can irritate sensitive skin, sunblock contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide/oxide which is much less likely to irritate. The traditional downside to sunblock, however, is its consistency. The zinc oxide and titanium dioxide/oxide mean it comes out thicker and more opaque than sunscreen (its job is to shield you from the sun, after all).
Which is better for redheads?
But, 21st-century redheads, you’re in luck. Nowadays, the advanced formulas of sun lotion tend to contain ingredients found in both sunscreen and sunblock, meaning that you can have both the abilities of sunblock with the lighter consistency of a sunscreen.
The important things to remember when choosing your sun lotion: read the label and ensure that the product offers coverage of both UVA and UVB rays, and use SPF 30 or higher. Apply the lotion at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure to allow full absorption and always make sure that you apply liberally to all skin that is exposed.
Be safe out there, redheads!