When comes to products we always question whether we really need them or they are just a part of our vanity kit? In this article we explore all things sunscreen. Let’s get started.
How important is sunscreen?
Sunscreen prevents skin cancer; UV is a known human carcinogen. It is found that more people develop skin cancer from indoor tanning than develop lung cancer from smoking. In the past decade (2008 to 2018), the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed annually has increased 53%. An estimated 90% of skin aging is caused by the sun, and people who use sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 or higher daily, showed 24% less skin aging than those who do not.
**You got the message!**
UVA, UVB, SPF What are these terms associated to Sunscreen…?
UVA is able to pass through windows, and penetrate into our skin’s dermis layer, causing damage to our skin’s collagen structure, and is the main culprit for skin ageing. UVB hits the skin surface, and is responsible for sunburns.
Looking at SPF alone is not enough, as SPF is only an indication protection against UVB. UVA protection is indicated by the PA, PPD, UV circle, or when the sunscreen is indicated as ‘broad spectrum’.
Is higher SPF better?
Yes, but only marginally so. An SPF30 sunscreen actually only provides less than 1% more UVB protection than an SPF 15 sunscreen. You are way better off applying the right amount of a lower SPF sunscreen, than to think that you can get away with a thin layer of higher SPF sunscreen. Furthermore, SPF is only an indication of UVB protection. Do check the UVA protection as well!
What types of sunscreens are there?
There are two main types of sunscreen – chemical and physical. Here is a summary of the pros of cons of each type:
|Type of Sunscreen||UV Filter||Pros||Cons|
|Better for sensitive skin
|Thick, chalky texture
Give a ‘white-cast’
No white cast
Better UVA coverage
|Effectiveness of UV protection decreases as UV rays react with the chemical UV filters
Can cause skin irritation when UV rays react with the chemical UV filters
How much sunscreen should I apply?
Studies have shown that most people only apply 25% to 50% of the amount actually required to get the indicated level of UV protection. We need 2 mg/cm^2 of skin surface. A rough gauge is to squeeze out at least an index finger-length amount of sunscreen. Apply your sunscreen in two or three layers to ensure adequate protection.
Is reapplication necessary?
Yes. UV protection does wear off and degrade as we perspire and as UV filters react with UV rays (especially for chemical filters). It is highly recommended to reapply every two to three hours, or as frequently as possible when we are running or doing other sports. One easy way to reapply sunscreen, is to use spray sunscreen. However, it is not recommended to use spray sunscreen as the first layer of sun protection, as spraying on your sunscreen may result in uneven and insufficient application, which results in reduced protection.
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