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Sunscreen v/s Sunblock: What's the difference?

When it comes to protecting your skin from the sun, you might be curious about the difference between sunscreen and sunblock. Both are essential for shielding your skin, but they function in distinct ways. Let’s explore what sets these two apart and help you choose the right protection for your skin.

Defining Sunscreen and Sunblock  

Sunscreen and sunblock both protect your skin from harmful UV rays, but they work differently. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation and convert it into heat, which is then released from the skin. Mineral sunscreens, also known as sunblocks, physically block and reflect UV rays using ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate that have been linked to coral bleaching and can negatively affect aquatic ecosystems. Mineral sunscreens include ingredients that are safer for the environment and break down easily when washed away.

Despite its effectiveness, the term "sunblock" was banned by the FDA in 2011 because it gave a false sense of complete protection. Therefore, you'll find these products labeled as mineral or physical sunscreens instead. Minori’s Daily Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 falls into this category, offering effective and environmentally friendly protection.

How do sunscreen and sunblock differ?

The primary difference lies in their active ingredients and how they protect the skin. Sunscreens contain chemicals that penetrate the skin and absorb UV rays before they can reach the dermal layers of your skin. These may require more frequent reapplication and can potentially cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. Sunblocks on the other hand use minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to create a physical barrier, offering more immediate protection and being more skin-friendly. However, sunblock can be thicker and might leave a white cast on the skin. Minori’s Daily Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 addresses this issue with a universal banana tint that blends evenly on all skin tones. A blend of pigments and mineral fillers in the formula ensure that you face no white cast post application. 

Pros and Cons of sunscreen and Sunblock 

Chemical Sunscreens:


  • Provide broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays by combining various active ingredients for comprehensive sun protection.
  • Often formulated to be lightweight and easily absorbed into the skin, leaving no residue or white cast. 


    • Can penetrate the skin more deeply than some might prefer. Recent FDA research indicates that these ingredients can be absorbed into the bloodstream even after a single use. 
    • Can harm marine ecosystems. Ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate have been linked to coral bleaching and negative effects on aquatic life.

      Mineral Sunscreens (Sunblocks)


      • Mineral sunscreens, containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are less likely to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions, making them suitable for sensitive skin and children.
      • Provide immediate protection upon application because they physically block and reflect UV rays, unlike chemical sunscreens that need time to absorb and become effective.


        • Can leave a white or chalky residue on the skin, especially on darker skin tones. 
        • Tend to have a thicker consistency, which can be less comfortable to wear, especially in humid conditions or for those with oily skin.

          Dermatologists often prefer sunblock (or mineral sunscreen) because it is gentler, safer for those with allergies, and better for the environment. Minori’s Daily Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 with its universal banan tint and lightweight formula ensures smooth application leaving no white cast. 

          Is sunblock better than sunscreen?

          Sunblocks, also known as physical or mineral sunscreens, are generally considered better for sun protection due to their ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These provide broad-spectrum protection, are safer for sensitive skin, children, and those with skin conditions, and are less harmful to the environment. Unlike chemical sunscreens, which can cause skin reactions and need time to become effective, mineral sunscreens offer immediate protection and sit on the skin's surface, reducing irritation. With the FDA discontinuing the term “sunblock”, what differentiates the two are the ingredients. Always read labels to ensure your sunscreen contains mineral or natural ingredients for the best protection.

          Written by Zoya Virani
          Photography by Jackie Ma




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