Are sunscreens really needed?
- March 28, 2018
- Posted by: Cutis
- Category: Knowledge Center
Although the sun is unquestionably the source of all energy here on earth, prolonged exposure to it can damage the skin. With growing interest in outdoor recreational activities, it has become essential to take precautions to prevent sun-induced skin damage.
Short-term skin damage from excessive sun exposure includes tanning and sunburn whereas long-term exposure can lead to premature aging (wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and appearance of red veins) and even skin cancers!
Complete avoidance of sun exposure is neither practical nor advisable. Yet, photo-protection is important especially when one is outdoors. Come rain or shine, summer or winter, one needs to protect their skin from harmful UV rays of the sun and that’s exactly what a sunscreen does.
Sunscreens are available in a variety of formulations in the market today. It is better to pick a sunscreen that has a broad spectrum of coverage (i.e. protects from both UV-A &UV-B rays). The effectiveness of a sunscreen is measured by Sun Protection Factor or SPF – a number that indicates the length of time the sunscreen protects the skin from getting sunburns compared to when not using one. A minimum SPF of 30 is recommended for Indian skin. One must be careful to choose a product that is compatible with their skin type. Water or gel based products are suitable for those with oily and acne (a pimple) prone skin, on the other hand, cream and lotion-based ones serve better for people with dry skin, and finally, water/sweat-resistant sunscreens are best for sportspersons. For those with sensitive skin and children under 2 years of age, sunscreens containing inert compounds like ZnO and TiO2 are preferable.
Tips regarding sun protection:
- The sun’s rays are strongest and most harmful between 10 am & 3 pm: Minimize sun exposure during these times of the day.
- Sunscreens should be applied 20 to 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every 2 hours. This is because the ingredients don’t start acting immediately after application, nor do their effects last beyond 150 minutes. Many make the mistake of applying them only once a day, which will not bring maximum benefits.
- Teaspoon rule for sunscreen application: 3ml (slightly more than half a teaspoon) each for the face, neck & each arm; 6 ml each for the legs, back, and chest. Most people end up applying well under 50% of the recommended amount.
- Wear sunglasses with UV ray protection, wide-brimmed hats, and protective clothing
Sunscreens aren’t without side effects, which may include skin irritation, contact dermatitis &acne eruptions. But one needn’t worry since these are rare and sunscreens aren’t hazardous to life. Be sure to choose a product that suits your skin best, and if in doubt, seek a dermatologist’s opinion.
Hence, the appropriate daily sunscreen usage is indeed key to young, gorgeous looking, healthy and cancer-free skin. So put on a sunscreen and go have fun in the sun!