Sunblock vs Sunscreen, Insect Repellent, and What You Need to Know

Posted by on Jun 8, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Sunblock vs Sunscreen, Insect Repellent, and What You Need to Know

The wait is over. Kids are out of school, families are going on vacation, and you’re ready to spend some time outdoors. If you plan on spending a nice day on one of our River Adventures, then you’ll absolutely need to know how to protect yourself and enjoy the ride. Even if you’re not planning on spending an entire vacation outdoors, chances are you’ll spend some time outside this summer. Whether for a BBQ with neighbors and friends, or a weekend camping, hiking, or on the water protecting your skin from UV rays and nasty bites is important. What kind of sunscreen should you use? What’s the difference between sunscreen and sunblock? Aren’t all insect repellents with DEET the same? We’ll guide you through the process and help you make a choice that suits your needs the best.

Sunscreen, sunblock, and insect repellents work differently for different people.  Some of us need to lather on the sunscreen every 15 minutes or risk getting so red we get blisters.  For others, one application is enough, and we’re barely pink.  The same goes for insect repellent.  Some methods work different for different people.  However, we do have some guidelines and tips to follow for you and your family.

Insect Repellent

One of the best methods to beat the bugs is to first treat your clothes with a spray-type insect repellent that contains DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide).  Then, use a spray or cream on your skin.  Creams are generally easier to pack, but some people don’t like the way the cream makes their skin feel oily. As we mentioned before, use a repellent that contains DEET. DEET works by confusing the insects smelling receptors, which means they can’t detect carbon dioxide around your body. When the bugs can’t smell you, they can’t bite you.

Bigger numbers mean better results, right? Not necessarily. Actually, it’s generally not recommended to use an insect repellent that contains more than 30% DEET.  The percentage of DEET in an insect repellent doesn’t matter how effective it is against keeping bugs from biting. The DEET concentration measures the amount of time the DEET will last. If you’re planning on doing a short, two-hour hike, then insect repellent with 7%-10% DEET will work perfectly fine.  If you’re planning on going for an all-day hike, make sure the repellent contains 20%-30% DEET.  Contrary to what you might think, there’s actually no need for insect repellent 100% DEET because it’s such a strong chemical. A 100% concentration of DEET is not going to be more effective than a lower concentration. In fact, too much exposure to such a high concentration can be dangerous over time.

Sunblock vs Sunscreen

Most people use the terms sunscreen and sunblock interchangeably, which adds to the confusion of the great sunblock vs sunscreen debate. However, there’s a distinct difference between the two.

  • Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a chemical-based substance. The chemicals in sunscreen absorb UV rays and release them as little amounts of heat. Sunscreen does allow some of the sun’s rays to reach the skin. However, the effect of these rays are minimal. Some people are allergic to some of the chemicals in sunscreen so they opt for sunblock instead.

  • Sunblock

Sunblock is a mineral-based substance that physically reflects UV rays, like a bunch of tiny mirrors.  Many types sunblock are opaque and a generally thicker by nature. Because of this thick nature, they’re harder to adequately cover parts of the body.

Whichever product of the sunblock vs sunscreen question you decide on, make sure you use a product of the no scent/low scent variety. Many of the perfumes and scents put into sunscreens only attract more insects and, sometimes, other potentially dangerous animals depending on your region.  Both types of sunscreen have their advantages and disadvantages.  Sunscreen is easier to apply but may irritate some people with sensitive skin.  Sunblock can be harder to apply and may leave white streaks on the skin.  Sunblock vs sunscreen, which one is better? They’re both equally effective. Choose the type that works best for you. Some people also choose to carry around a small tube of SPF 50 for areas with thinner skin like the ears.  Depending on how sensitive to the sunlight you are, you maybe want to consider doing this.

As with DEET, you need don’t spend more money for SPF 100.  No product—sunblock vs sunscreen—is going to completely absorb/block UV rays.  A product with SPF 50 blocks approximately 98% of UV rays.  Any product claiming to be higher than SPF 50, will only block very small levels above 98%. Whichever type you choose (sunblock vs sunscreen), make sure it’s at least SPF 30, which is the current recommendation by the American Academy of Dermatologists to provide adequate protection.

Whether you’re camping, canoeing, kayaking, or tanking, make sure your skin is protected. Contact us for motel reservations, a River Adventure, or a relaxing weekend of camping and enjoy your time in the Nebraska Sandhills.