The beautiful rosy weather is finally gone and we are moving towards the days of scorching heat, when the sun will show no mercy on anyone and will shine high and bright from 6 a.m till 5 pm. Two things become extremely important in this weather- Deodorant and Sunscreen ;). Deodorant we all know why but there is mixed opinion on the use of sunscreens. These are the days when your skin will need most protection when outdoors and here is some first hand information on the sunscreen.
Types of sunscreen
Sunscreen comes in different forms and kinds. There is lotion, cream and spray. There is water proof and normal. The spray kind is not suitable for face and is normally used for beach trips as it is generally waterproof. It is known that no sunscreen is actually water proof but the one labelled as waterproof tends to not wash away too quickly in water.
Why use it?
I sometimes cannot believe that people argue the use of sunscreen but then I remember the days when I was one of those people too. I think most people who use sunscreen use it for the sole purpose of protecting their color (not getting tanned) but we have much better reasons for using sunscreen. Sunscreen helps protect against skin cancer and premature ageing. I would like to share my personal experience here. When I went for my first beach holiday I was not prepared for the weather. It was very hot and I thought applying sunscreen once should be enough. I got badly sunburned and now I can see some permanent damage it caused me. I got some spots on my face after that and my skin had changed since then. I did some research after that and was surprised how much I underestimated the value of applying sunscreen. I really wish I had known it earlier.
SPF and Broad Spectrum explained
Sun protection Factor (SPF) is basically the measure of the ability of sunscreen to protect against UVB rays. No sunscreen can block 100% UV rays but the higher the SPF, the more protection it provides. SPF 15+ blocks around 93% of UV rays, SPF 30+ around 97 % and SPF 50+ around 98%. It is important to note that the amount of SPF is not directly proportional with the length of time it will protect you. For example SPF 30+ will not protect you longer than SPF 15+ it will only protect you more, meaning it will block more rays and will provider higher, not longer protection.
In general there two kinds of sunscreens available. Simple SPF and Broad spectrum SPF. It is highly recommended to use broad spectrum . There are two kinds of UV rays- UVA and UVB. Non broad spectrum protects only against UVB rays while Broad spectrum protects against both. In Australia, where like India temperatures soar very high, it is recommended by Therapeutic Goods Administration to use at least SPF 50+ broad spectrum sunscreen. For the super hot temperatures of India it is recommended to use broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen.
The following explanation is from skincancer.org
UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging, and other light-induced effects of aging (photoaging). They also exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays, and increasingly are being seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB.¹
How much and How often should you apply sunscreen
Rain or shine, if you want to avoid premature ageing and unwanted damage to your skin, you should not step outside without sunscreen. How often a sunscreen must be used depends on its SPF. The rule of thumb is to apply it every 2 hours, especially if you are outdoors. Also, you should apply it at least 15 minutes before stepping out in sun. If you are visiting beach or outdoor pool, it is recommended to apply it every time you come out of water. It is said that most people apply only half the recommended amount of sunscreen. If you are planning to stay under direct sunlight it is recommended to use a good amount, in short-apply generously.
Difference between sunblock and sunscreen
I will give a very short and simple explanation here. In general sun block is referred to the broad spectrum sunscreens which blocks both UVA and UVB rays while sunscreen is the one that protects against UVA only. Although, now a days almost all sunscreens/sunblocks protect against both rays but it will still be useful to read the label first. Read this article here for more detailed explanation.
Other sun protection measures
- Wear long sleeves clothes or sun protecting sleeves.
- Wear a hat under direct sun
- Use an umbrella
- Your eyes are also prone to damage from direct sunlight so sunglasses are must.
Some websites with more information on sunscreens
Sun is not specifically angry with women, men and children are equally prone to the brutality. I know most guys refuse to wear it because it is considered a cosmetic product but I wish I could explain to them that their skin is no different than ours and is equally prone to damage and risk of skin cancer. So girls take care of your skin and try to convince men in your life to do so too (your efforts may go futile though ;)).
Stay cool and safe