Why should we use sunscreen?
1. More than 80% of skin damage is environmental, sunrays being a major contributor.
2. Prevents facial brown spots (uneven pigmentation) and skin discolorations. This is a major problem specifically for ageing skin.
3. Slows down the development of wrinkles and premature aging of skin
4. Decrease the risk of skin cancer.
5. It also helps to reduce the appearance of facial red veins and blotchiness.
What is SPF?
SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect skin from UVB rays, the kind of radiation that causes sunburn, damages skin, and can contribute to skin cancer.
If your skin would normally burn after 10 minutes in the sun, applying an SPF 15 sunscreen would allow you to stay in the sun without burning for approximately 150 minutes (a factor of 15 times longer). This is a rough estimate that depends on skin type, intensity of sunlight and amount of sunscreen used. SPF is actually a measure of protection from amount of UVB exposure and it is not meant to help you determine duration of exposure.
For best protection, experts recommend using a minimum SPF sunscreen of 20, applying the proper amount (2mg/cm2 of skin, or about one ounce for full body coverage), and reapplying every 2 hours.
Why not use a really high Sun Protection Factor?
That’s sheer marketing gimmick! SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%. You’re not doubling your protection with the twice-as-high number. SPF 50 blocks 98%. No sunscreen can block 100% of solar energy. So any product labeled higher than SPF 50+ offers only a minuscule fraction of additional protection beyond 98%.
Additionally, in order to have broad spectrum protection, the UVA protection should be at least 1/3 of the UVB protection. High SPF sunscreens usually offer far greater UVB than UVA protection, thus offering a false sense of full protection.
How to choose your sunscreen?
- SPF rating:SPF = Sunburn Protection Factor. It’s a gauge of the product’s effectiveness against sunburn-causing ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. If you are outside for long stretches (2+ hours), choose SPF 30 or higher.
- Broad spectrum: This indicates that a product is deemed effective against both UVB (skin-burning) and UVA (skin-aging) rays. UVA and UVB rays can also contribute to skin cancer. Check for “broad spectrum” on a label.
- Components:Look for a sunscreen that contains at least one of the following, ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide. Any of those should do the trick.
- Sweat- or water-resistant: No sunscreen is waterproof, even though that term used to appear on product labels. Based on performance in lab tests, new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines now allow products to claim water (or sweat) resistance of either 40 or 80 minutes.
Mistakes made in using sunscreen!
- Most people under-apply sunscreens, using ¼ to ½ the amount required. Using half the required amount of sunscreen only provides the square root of the SPF. So, a half application of an SPF 30 sunscreen only provides an effective SPF of 5.5! Apply the proper amount (2mg/cm2 of skin, or about one ounce for full body coverage).
- We do not reapply sunscreen! Reapplication of sunscreen is just as important as putting it on in the first place, so reapply the same amount every two hours. Sunscreens should also be reapplied immediately after swimming, toweling off, or sweating a great deal.