Hello there! In this post, we’ll be talking about sunscreen facts and busting some myths related to it. Sunscreen should be an important step in your routine, irrespective of your gender, age or skin colour. It protects your skin from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays that can damage your skin and result in hyperpigmentation, acne, fine lines, wrinkles and even skin cancer.
How to use sunscreens?
They are the last step to your skincare routine and should be reapplied generously at least every two hours if you’re out in the sun all day.
Let’s go through a few facts about sun exposure and sunscreens that can help you protect your skin better.
1. 80-90% of cases of premature skin ageing and skin cancer is caused due to the unprotected exposure from UV rays.
2. How much SPF do I need?
Anything from SPF 30-50 is enough. You don’t need to go higher than that and definitely not lower. Apart from SPF, you need to check whether your sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection or not i.e, it saves from both UVA and UVB rays.
Also, check the PA factor. It means Protection Grade of UVA rays which measures the SPF of a sunscreen. Higher the plus ‘+’ signs, greater is sun protection. PA+++ and PA++++ are highly recommended.
While making a purchase, SPF factor, broadspectrum protection and PA factor are the most important sunscreen facts you should keep in mind. If the brand doesn’t specify these factors, run away from them.
3. UVA rays contribute to ageing while UVB rays contribute to skin burn. Both are likely to cause skin cancer.
UVA rays have the ability to pass through the glass so you need to apply sunscreen while you’re driving and standing or sitting in front of glass windows with the blinds open. UVB rays are associated with sunburns. Unlike UVA rays, UVB beams cannot pass through glass. Both UVA and UVB rays are carcinogens (cancer-causing), which is the reason why it’s important to invest in a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection against both types. (as mentioned in point 2) The easiest way to remember the difference between UVA and UVB is that A stands for ageing while B stands for burning.
4. There are 2 types of sunscreen – Physical (also called Mineral) and Chemical Sunscreen.
Physical sunscreen has mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and it sits on top of the skin and deflects and scatter the UVA rays.
Chemical sunscreen has organic compounds such as octinoxate, octisalate, etc which changes the UV rays into heat and then release it from the skin.
Physical sunscreens are better if you have sensitive skin but the ones made from nanoparticles tend to leave a white cast. There are sunscreens that have both chemical filters as well as physical blockers and they’re called hybrid sunscreens.
5. How much do I need to apply? Is having SPF in makeup enough?
You need to apply 1 ml of the product on your face to stop getting sunburnt. Be generous with your sunscreen application. Makeup with SPF is generally not enough unless,
- They have broad-spectrum protection
- You go generous and apply the same amount as you’d do in sunscreen. And no one uses that much amount of foundation!
6. Applied SPF 15 over SPF 30. Does that equal to SPF 45?
Applying sunscreen and then using products that have SPF in it does increase sun protection. But it doesn’t add up algebraically. SPF15 + SPF 30 is never equal to SPF 45. It would give you the protection of SPF 30 only.
7. Eyes age the earliest!
Don’t forget to use sunscreen on the area around your eyes as that’s where the signs of ageing start showing at its earliest. Also, unprotected sun exposure to UV rays would worsen your undereye circles.
8. Don’t forget your lips!
Lips have no melanin, which makes them more susceptible to sun damage caused by UV exposure. With regular sun exposure, your lips get thinner. You can get a lip balm that has SPF of 30.
9. European Sunscreens are better when it comes to providing UVA protection
This is because the standards there are higher. Not all sunscreens can be sold in Europe, they have specified chemicals that provide stronger protection from UVA rays. These ingredients aren’t approved by FDA to be sold in the USA. And I have no clue about India!
10. Stay clear of vitamin A in your sunscreen
Many sunscreens use vitamin A, which is an antioxidant and a great anti-ageing ingredient. But the vitamin doesn’t interact well with sunlight and may trigger the development of tumours.
Bonus Fact: Always remember we need protection from UV rays and they’re present even during cloudy days and winters, even when the sun isn’t.
These are the few sunscreen facts you should know and follow religiously to protect your skin from skin cancer and keep it healthy sans discolouration, dull skin and sunburns. If you’re someone who already has developed skin ailments like these then it’s best to start including an anti-oxidant serum like Tiam Vita B3 source or The Ordinary Niacinamide + Zinc Solution to help your skin get back its glow and fight UV damage.
Increase sun protection by combining sunscreen with other methods of skin protection like avoiding the sun during the brightest time of the day (between 10:00 am – 4:00 pm), wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and hats, and invest in sunglasses that block UV rays.