Sunscreen (also known as sunblock or suntan lotion) is a lotion, spray, gel or other topical product that absorbs or reflects the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation and protects the skin.
Sunscreens contain one or more UV filters of which there are three main types:
- Organic chemical compounds that absorb ultraviolet light (such as oxybenzone, a suspected photocarcinogen).
- Inorganic particulates that reflect, scatter, and absorb UV light (such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide), or a combination of both.
- Organic particulates that mostly absorb light like organic chemical compounds, but contain multiple chromophores, may reflect and scatter a fraction of light like inorganic particulates, and behave differently in formulations than organic chemical compounds. An example is Tinosorb M.
Medical organizations such as the American Cancer Society recommend the use of sunscreen because it prevents the squamous cell carcinoma and the basal cell carcinoma.