These days as the temperatures are stepping up, it is essential to protect our skin from UV rays of the Sun.
Sunscreens - Sunscreen lotions/creams minimize the effects of sun’s heat either by absorbing UV rays or by preventing them to damage your skin. Generally UVA rays tend to age the skin and UVB rays are the sun’s burning rays. Sunscreen protects you from Sunburn and Premature Ageing. Make sure to apply Sunscreen not only before going out but also when you stay indoors because windows and fluorescent bulbs allow UV rays. So unless you’re in a windowless room with no light, your skin is receiving UV radiation.
SPF - SPF stands for "Sun Protection Factor". This indicates how much time one can stay in the sun without getting the skin damaged due to UV rays. For instance, if your unprotected skin starts reddening in 20 minutes, if you are exposed to sun. Theoretically with SPF 15, you can stay in sun for 15 times longer without sunburn. It means 15*20 minutes i.e., you can stay protected for 300 minutes.
Types of Sunscreens - Generally Sunscreen’s are categorized into two types depending on their characteristics and ingredients list. They are:
- Physical Sunscreens work by sitting on the top of the skin to reflect and scatter the sun rays. These Sunscreens act as Sun Blockers and contain active ingredients such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.
- Chemical Sunscreens absorb and change the UV rays into heat and finally release the heat from the skin. So, persons with Sensitive skin may avoid this type. These Sunscreens contain ingredients such as Avobenzone, Benzophenone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Helioplex, Oxybenzone and so on.
Most of the Sunscreens these days are made from both physical and chemical ingredients. So, choose the one which would suit your skin type, better. There are some concerns related to Oxybenzone or benzophenone-3 and it is a debatable topic. Some studies show that it may enter the bloodstream and trigger allergic skin reactions. Try to buy the sunscreens without PABA (aminobenzoic acid) and Oxybenzone, as they may harm the skin more than protecting.
How to Choose a Sunscreen?
Most people tend to think that a moisturizer or a foundation with SPF is enough for protection against the sun, but it is not. They don’t give adequate aid as the SPF they contain is usually not stable. So, a moisturizer or foundation without SPF and a Sunscreen lotion are a better to use separately.
While deciding on Sunscreen, you need to keep these points in your mind and choose accordingly.
- Stability - Some Sunscreens tend to be unstable and wear off immediately after going into the sun. Physical UV filters don’t break down. Go to the ingredients list and check if avobenzone is present, as it is highly unstable. It becomes stable when combined with other ingredients like octinoxate and octocrylene(avobenzone + octinoxate is also an unstable combo).
- Broad Spectrum - Checking SPF doesn’t finish the whole story. It only protects against the UVB rays. Broad Spectrum protects against both UVA and UVB rays. But, if the label ‘Broad Spectrum’ is not mentioned on the bottle, then look out for PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening) or PA. PPD checks how well a Sunscreen protects against UVA rays and is actually measured in numbers. More the number, more is the protection. PA represents the strength of Sun Coverage, is equal to PPD and is measured as PA+. More number of + signs, more is the protection.
- Water Resistant - Sunscreens may claim they are ‘Water-Proof’ or ‘Sweat-Proof’, in reality this doesn't happen. But they may say, it’s ‘Water-Resistant’. Also they must mention how much time it will resist the water or sweat while doing physical activities.
- Hypo Allergenic - You need to choose the Sunscreen which doesn’t irritate your skin. Physical Sunscreens are less irritating and are better for sensitive skin.
- According to your Skin Type - Most Sunscreens have a high alcohol content to make them feel less greasy. If your skin is Oily, use Sunscreens containing alcohol and if it’s Dry, then avoid the Sunscreen containing alcohol.
- Try Sunscreens Online - While in a retail store, it is not possible to check all these, Online sites like purplle coupons detailed description of all the ingredients used, along with the user reviews so you can get the best idea of how effective the product can be or the skin types that the product can be used.
Recommended SPF - It is advised to use Sunscreen with SPF 15 or more. Sunscreen with SPF 30 is actually better as it blocks 97% of the UV rays compared to SPF 15 which blocks only 93%. Sunscreens with SPF 50 and more block 98% of the UV rays.
Reapplication - Most of the Sunscreen label’s mention only about how much of the UVB rays they block, they don’t mention anything about UVA rays. So you may need to reapply it for every 2 to 3 hours, as the sun can break down your sunscreen within an hour or two, if you are getting exposed to sun continuously because you may sweat and it may get rubbed off.
Educating ourselves about Sunscreens may help us the choose the Sunscreen better. Deciding on a Sunscreen may seem overly scientific, but it doesn’t mean it’s illogical.