Regardless of what time of the year it is, sunscreen is important. With a constant flow of mis-information floating around, it’s even more important for us to understand why sunscreen matters and what it actually does for our skin!
1. Sunscreen protects us from UV radiation
UV radiation is emitted by the sun and its ionizing power can damage cells beyond repair by making them cancerous. These rays lack the energy to enter the body, and therefore their primary effect is on the skin. A sunscreen product acts like a very thin bulletproof vest, stopping the UV photons before they can reach the skin and inflict damage. It contains organic sunscreen molecules that absorb UV and inorganic pigments that absorb, scatter, and reflect UV.
2. Sunscreen has types!
Not just in terms of brands but also in terms of their composition too. There are majorly two types. Physical and mineral sunscreens. All products that contain Zinc Oxide (ZnO) or titanium dioxide (TiO2) are called physical sunscreens as they reflect the sun's rays off the skin.
Chemical sunscreens on the other hand work differently in the way that they absorb the rays and scatter them. They contain a mixture of varying ratios of chemicals that help in protecting the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Although the effects of this type of sunscreens are much debated. It has been claimed that chemical sunscreens can cause skin irritations and other skin conditions so use them of your own accord.
3. Higher SPF is not always good
Yes, that’s right. Sunscreens and their SPF or Sun Protection Factor are popularly indicated as the measure of time it takes for your skin to burn. In this scenario, a higher number would mean a longer time your skin is protected. But contrary to this popular belief, that is not how it works.
Did you know that if your skin generally burns after 10 minutes in the sun, an SPF 15 sunscreen would allow you to stay in the sun for about 150 minutes without burning (a factor of 15 times longer)? This is a rough estimate that is dependent on skin type, sunshine intensity, and sunscreen application. SPF is a measure of protection from UVB radiation and is not intended to be used to calculate the duration of exposure.
And experts suggest that any SPF factor above 50 is sort of redundant because they do not provide a large margin of protection. Therefore for everyday use, a sunscreen with SPF 15-50 is recommended.
4. Pea-sized is not enough
When applying sunscreen, we tend to take a small amount of product and spread it across our face. This is absolutely not enough and the reason can be understood using the previous point.
It is recommended that one uses upto 3 fingers worth or one tablespoon of product for their face and neck. For using the finger measurement, measure out
product on the first three fingers of your hand; index, middle and ring finger. Apply generously all over your face without missing a spot and you should be
good to go!
Now that you are well equipped with information about sunscreen and the correct method to apply, go out and enjoy your summer!