Is Sunscreen really necessary?

All of us have heard that is important to use a sunscreen.Some may wonder if it is really required or what exactly it does?This post will answer all your queries about sunscreen.

Why is sunscreen required?

Sunscreen provides protection against harmful effects of sun and ultraviolet radiation. Continuous sun exposure can lead to sun burns,skin discolorations, premature ageing, wrinkles,skin cancers.It is also said excessive amount of UV Radiation affects body’s immune system.

What does SPF mean in a sunscreen?

SPF means Sun protection factor.Its tell you how much protection it can provide against sun damage.The higher the number,the higher protection it provides.It is normally mentioned on the tube.One should use atleast SPF 15.SPF 30 is recommended.If you are swimming or outdoors then you should opt for higher SPF and re-apply at regular intervals.Now a days, most cosmetics-lip balms,eye creams, face creams, foundations,compact,lipsticks etc come with sunscreen too.

Which is the right way to apply sunscreen?

  • Apply ¬†generous amount of Sunscreen on all exposed parts(eyes,lip,hands,legs etc) of the body 20 minutes before you step outside.
  • Sunscreen will last only for few hours.Heavy perspiration will wash it away,so re-application of sunscreen is necessary.
  • Wear protective clothing.Cover yourself with jackets, full sleeves clothes,scarves,hats,shades etc.Carrying a umbrella also helps.
  • Ladies apply sunscreen first and then proceed towards your normal make-up routine.

What should one look for when buying a sunscreen?

  • Choose sunscreen according your skin type-normal,dry,oily,sensitive.
  • If oily and acne prone skin ,opt for oil-free and non-comedogenic sunscreen,dry skin-moisturising sunscreen, sensitive- hypo-allergenic sunscreen.
  • Look for these ingredients:avobenzene, zinco oxide,titanium oxide,oxybenzone etc.
  • Look for SPF number:SPF 15/30/50/75+ and choose according to your requirements.
  • Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA+ and UVB+),it provides protection against UVA and UVB sun rays.
  • If you perspire heavily or swim or play sports,opt for sweat proof and water proof sunscreens.
  • Opt for gel based sunscreens as cream based sunscreen leave white cast.
  • Check for expiry dates.
  • Sun is peak during 10am-4pm(IST).Sun radiation is highest, so wear a sunscreen before you step out.

What are physical and chemical sunscreens?

Physical Sunscreen acts as a barrier between skin and sun reflecting the sun rays.
Example: Titanium oxide,Zinc oxide
Chemical Sunscreen react with skin to convert them to energy before they harm the skin.They need 20 minutes to render effective unlike physical sunscreen which are effective immediately upon application.
Example:Avobenzene,Homosalate etc.

Can I use expired sunscreen?

The answer is no because the chemical composition falls apart after expiry date and rendering ineffective and useless.

What should I do when sunscreens leave white cast after application?

White cast residue invariably happens with most sunscreens.But it can be really odd sometimes.Gel based sunscreen do not leave white cast.Also opt for sunscreen containing nano-micronized zinc oxide and titanium oxide crystals.

Can wearing sunscreen causing Vitamin D deficiency ?

Well yes!But sun is not the only source of Vitamin D.Now more than obtaining Vitamin D from sun exposure,it has harmful effects on us.Food is also a source of Vitamin D like milk,eggs,mushrooms,fish,orange,yogurt,cod liver oil etc.Then there are health supplements available.

Should babies and kids use a sunscreen?

Yes kids and babies need protection from sun too. It is said that sunscreen can be used from 6 months onwards on a baby.But keep in mind while choosing sunscreen that it should be safe on sensitive skin.It is best to consult your doctor on this.Sebamed has some very good sunscreens that can used on kids and adults.

Should I use a sunscreen even when I am Indoors?

The answer is yes! It is impossible to avoid the sun even if you are inside the house.One is susceptible to sun damage even while sitting near windows too because UV rays can penetrate glass windows.

Should I use sunscreen on a rainy or cloudy day?

The answer is yes! Sunscreen has to be used on all days-sunny/rainy/cloudy rays.Ultraviolet rays penetrate any surface-skin,water,sand,mud,clouds etc .UV rays intensify when they pass through clouds so you will still get high levels of radiation on a cloudy/rainy day meaning you are still susceptible to sun damage on overcast days.

The same principle is applicable when travelling in a car.Sun-films/Tinted films can also intensify UV rays so once again still susceptible to sun damage.

Do certain medication trigger more sensitivity to sun?

Yes certain medications increase photo sensitivity of the skin.
  • Oral medications:Few antibiotics( Minocyline/Doxycyline etc) ,Isotretinoin(Accutane/Sotret).
  • Topical acne applications:Retinoids,Benzoyl Peroxide, Glycolic acid etc.
Hence if you are any acne medication, sunscreen is a crucial step in treating acne.

Which are best sunscreens available in the current Indian market?

Image Credits:maria@flickr

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