Sunscreen & Sunblock

Once you've achieved your base tan and are ready to head out doors, you need to learn the difference between sunscreen and sunblock. Knowing could save your gorgeous skin from sunburn in these hot summer months. At Tan Unique, we make taking care of your skin our highest priority!

Sunscreen vs Sunblock

So how do you tell the difference between a sunscreen and a sunblock? The most obvious distinction between them are the two types of protective lotions: chemical and physical.


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Sunscreen is a chemical-based protection that uses chemical UV filters. When applied, sunscreen soaks into your skin to better absorb and disperse most ultraviolet (UV) rays that penetrate through the top layers of your skin before they can do any damage.

Sunscreen filters out most UV light, but cannot absorb all of the sun’s rays. So, sunscreen still allows you to tan, just at a much slower rate! Check out our Guide to Indoor Tanning Lotions for a safer and faster way to tan by clicking here.

Sunblock (also called “physical sunscreen” or “mineral sunscreen”) acts as an actual physical layer of protection from UV rays. They are the lotions that only use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as their active ingredients (unlike sunscreen which uses chemical UV filters) to physically block UV rays from your skin. When applied, sunblock creates a surface layer that reflects UV light and remains visible as a thick opaque coating on the skin that is more difficult to sweat off than sunscreen!

Sunblock is often used by people with sensitive skin, both for the more complete protection it offers and the fact that its ingredients are less likely to irritate sensitive skin than chemical-based sunscreens.

Different SPF Levels

You should always use some form of sun protection year-round (such as SPF lotion or sun protective clothing). This goes double for summertime, when you’re likely to be out and about with a lot of skin showing for long periods of time. Hello bikini weather!

Before heading out to enjoy some fun in the sun, you’ll want to apply a sun protective lotion with an SPF level of at least 15, according to the FDA (although many dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30).

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and refers to a lotion’s ability to block harmful UV rays. The FDA explains that the numbers themselves refer to the amount of time a person using the sun lotion can now be exposed to the sun’s rays. For example, if you burn after 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, then SPF 30 will allow you to spend 30 times longer without burning than if you didn’t use sunscreen.

Use this formula to accurately estimate how much SPF you’ll need:

Minutes to Burn Without Protection x SPF Number = Maximum Sun Exposure Time (Example: 10 minutes x SPF 15 = 150 Minutes Without Burning)

Sunscreen and Sunblock Usage

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) strongly recommends using sunscreen as a part of your daily routine.

Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before venturing out into the sun to allow your skin to properly absorb it. Sunblock becomes immediately effective as soon as it is slathered onto your skin, so it can be applied right before you go out!

Both sunscreen and sunblock should be reapplied at least every two hours. More so if you are swimming or participating in an activity that causes you to sweat!

Check out the label instructions on your bottle of sunscreen or sunblock for best results!

Visit Tan Unique for your professional skin care products today or call Tan Unique at 479-785-1185 to set up an appointment; walk-ins are welcome!

4516 Rogers Avenue Suite 2
Fort Smith, AR

479-785-1185

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Friday: 8:00 am - 7:00 pm

Saturday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm

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