Sunscreens absorb ultraviolet light so that it doesn't reach your skin.
On the other hand, sunblock physically blocks the sun's UV rays. This includes sunblock with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Although they work well, they are messy, are usually opaque (you can see them), and so are typically only used on small areas of a person's body, like their nose, ears, or cheeks. Fortunately, newer sunblocks are invisible, just like sunscreen. In fact, many products contain both a sunscreen and a sunblock.
Sunblock has the added benefit over sunscreen of blocking UVA rays, in addition to UVB rays. Unfortunately, many products are labeled as being sunblock, but are actually just sunscreen. If you really want a sunblock for your child, look for sunblock ingredients, including titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
Although not available in the United States, in other parts of the world, you can buy sunblock with either Mexoryl SX or Tinosorb as ingredients.
SunblockExamples of pure sunblocks that you can buy for your kids include:
- Blue Lizard Australian Suncream SPF 30 Baby
- Blue Lizard Australian Suncream SPF 30 Sensitive
- Neutrogena Sunblock Lotion Sensitive Skin SPF 30
And there are many more products with both a sunscreen and a sunblock, such as Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sunblock Lotion SPF 45, Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sweatproof UVA & UVB Sunblock Lotion SPF 30, and Bull Frog SuperBlock Sunblock Lotion with SPF 45, etc. To find a sunscreen with a sunblock, just look for a sunscreen that has either titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide as an added ingredient.
Broad Spectrum UV ProtectionYou can get UVA protection without a sunblock though. There are sunscreens that block UVA rays too, including those with aveobenzone, oxybenzone, and octocrylene.
Keep in mind that many experts have a problem with using the term 'sunblock' at all, since no product really blocks all of the sun's rays. In fact, even your clothing lets some of the sun's rays reach your body. For example, wearing a regular cotton T-shirt is comparable to having a sunscreen with SPF 5 on your skin.