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 between 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. For that you need to check the PA factor or the words called ‘broad spectrum’ on the sunscreen.
PA is a Japanese standard which 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.
But American sunscreens won’t always come with PA factor mentioned so you have to look for the term broad spectrum protection.
While making a purchase, SPF factor and broad spectrum protection/ PA factor are the most important sunscreen facts you should keep in mind. If the brand doesn’t specify these, 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 rays 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 about 5-10% of the incoming UV rays. While the rest of it is converted into heat and released from the skin.
Chemical sunscreen has organic compounds such as octinoxate, octisalate, oxybenzone, avobenzone etc which changes the UV rays into heat and then release it from the skin. Hence providing sun protection.
Many chemical sunscreens don’t work well with sensitive skin which is the reason why people opted for mineral sunscreens. However, there are many brands with well-formulated chemical sunscreens now that don’t cause any sort of skin irritation so keep experimenting until you found THE ONE.
Physical sunscreens are usually better if you have sensitive skin but they also tend to leave a white cast and are not cosmetically elegant.
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?
You need to apply 2 mg /cm² to get optimum sun protection. Be generous with your sunscreen application!
In order to get full protection as claimed by your sunscreen, you need to use enough of it. For example, if you’re using a sunscreen with SPF 30 but take a very small amount of it, you might be getting SPF protection in just a single digit. Scary, right?
6. Is having SPF in makeup enough?
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!
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Chemical Sunscreens Produce Heat But Is It Bad For Your Skin?
The amount of heat produced from UV rays by sunscreen is very small. As mentioned earlier, physical sunscreens also absorb around 90-95% of the UV rays, the difference in the heat produced by both types of sunscreen is just about 5-10%.
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.
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.