Published on April 14th, 2015 | by Gayatri Dahiya
GET PREACHY: Sun Protect
“If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.” – Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen (song) by Baz Luhrmann. Everyone from Baz Luhrmann, to our mothers, friends, acquaintances, beauty editors of influential magazines, dermatologists, cancer researchers, newspapers and journals, and advertisements extol one key virtue pertaining to skin care—don’t forget the sunscreen. True, it doesn’t seem like much in the short run, but consider this: direct sun exposure is—apart from tanning and sun burn—directly linked to premature ageing, sagging, wrinkles, dry and botchy skin, rash, dark spots, and more.
Sunscreens/sun blocks/sun protection lotions contain a specific Sun Protection Factor (SPF) that determines how long you can stay in the sun without burning from UVB light. Why just UVB? Because SPF is not known to protect against another type of radiation, UVA, which is what causes more harm in terms of radiation damage, cancer, etc. SPF is, essentially, a sunburn/discoloration ‘meter’ and often products inadvertently allow tanning with enough sun exposure. Being well covered and/or being in the shade can, at best, offer protection against sunlight. Did you know that even 15 minutes of direct sun exposure can cause significant skin damage? (Yes, that sexy tan is also a form of sun burn due to excessive sun exposure.) The market is flooded with SPF-containing products, be it lotions, sprays, or even lipsticks.
- Pick the right amount of SPF—It’s crucial to pick the right amount of SPF, so that you can derive maximum benefit from your product. To ascertain the right SPF for your requirement, use this simple equation the next time you’re out shopping: Take the time you would normally burn/tan (even lightly) in the sun without any protection. (20-30 minutes will normally produce redness on light-wheatish skin). Multiply this number by the SPF of the product. For instance, an SPF of 15 would offer protection for 300 minutes, or 5 hours. (15 x 20 minutes of sun time = 300 minutes; 300/60 minutes = 5 hours of sun protection without a sunburn.)
- Ideally, pick between SPF 30-50—Research suggests that ideal range for SPF in a product is SPF 30-50. Initially, it was believed that Indian skin did not require anything more than SPF 15, but that is a myth; SPF has to do with the time you spend in the sun, and not your skin colour. Research also observes that most people would not apply as much sun screen as is required, and should supplement that with a higher SPF. So, if all you do is slick on a few drops, consider a SPF 40. However, anything more than SPF 45-50 could be both useless and harmful, which is why the SPF factors in products is now capped at 50.
- Sun protection comes from reapplication—Using a sunscreen once in the day is not going to cut it. The effect of the SPF will only last for a few hours, following which, if you are going to be exposed to the sun – do yourself a favour, and reapply sunscreen. It’s best to get a sun block spray that you can carry in your bag, and apply whenever required.
- Sunscreen can’t be your only saviour—remember, SPF can only protect against UVB light. When exposed to the sun, you’re just as susceptible to damage caused by UVA light. Yes, sunscreen is awesome, but common sense also dictates that you try and be in the shade as much as possible, and avoid stepping out in peak sunlight hours (12-3 pm).
- Sweat can wash off sunscreen—sweat maybe the body’s way of ridding itself of toxins, but it sure as hell doesn’t do much for beauty. Apart from being the leading cause of tomato-face syndrome, and aggravated acne, sweat can also take off sunscreen. Go the extra mile for your skin, and reapply generously after a work out, or a hot, sticky day in the sun.
- Sunscreen is to winters, as sunscreen is to summers—basically, applying sunscreen in the winters is as important (if not more), than in the summers. Just because it’s cold out there, does not mean that the sun exposure becomes harmless for the skin. In fact, you’re bound to spend more time soaking in the sun in winters, than any other time of the year. So remember, come hail, rain, snow, or sunshine (of course) – slap on the sunscreen.