anti aging, glow, sensitive skin, skincare, sun protection, sunblock, sunscreen, wrinkles

Mastering the science of SUN PROTECTION- Why sunscreen is your skin’s best buddy ?

If you can afford to have just one anti aging product in your vanity, then may I suggest it has to be a sunscreen. Yes, it may sound over exaggerated but that bottle protects your skin from the sun’s powerful UV rays, decreasing your risk of skin aging, wrinkles, dark spots, sunburn, tanning as well as skin cancer.

SUNSCREENS – the Categories & Mode of action

Sunscreens are broadly categorized into Chemical and Physical depending upon the nature of UV rays filtering agent and their corresponding mechanism of action.

  • Physical (also known as Inorganic) sunscreens: They act as a physical blocker, reflecting & scattering UV radiation away from the top layer of skin. Examples include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These are typically less irritating to skin than the chemical counterparts and hence more suited for sensitive skinned people.
  • Chemical (also known as Organic) sunscreens: They absorb the UV radiation by virtue of their specific chemical bonds, resulting in slow breakdown of sunscreen and dissipation of UV rays as heat energy. E.g. cinnamates, salicylates, avobenzone & oxybenzone. The terminology {Organic} may sound misleading but here its referring to the particular chemistry of the molecule & no way refers to a plant based organic nature. Because they release heat as a part of their sun protection action, it may feel uncomfortable to sensitive skin & people with Rosacea (aka a condition where skin becomes red easily & reacts adversely to even minute amounts of heat).

THE BEST SUNSCREEN FOR YOU?

The best sunscreen is the one that you’ll use generously, as per label directions and on most of the days in year. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays as UVA cause wrinkles and aging while UVB leads to sunburn and tanning. UVA can also lead to immediate darkening of skin which contributes to overall tan.

Few pointers can help when narrowing down on an ideal sunscreen for any particular skin type.

  • Oily, acne prone skin may breakout with creams as they are usually heavy. Opt for gels or lotion based formulations with either physical or chemical sunscreen agents. Do read up labels for non comedogenic tag and steer clear of sunscreens with lanolin, mineral oil or silicones.
  • Dry Skin need cream based sunscreens and tolerate both chemical and physical types well.
  • Combination skin: Lotions are safer than creams.
  • Sensitive skin: Physical sunscreens are better than chemical ones owing to their low skin irritation potential.
  • Rosacea & irritated skin types : would benefit from physical sunscreens because heat generated by chemical sunscreens might worsen the irritation.
  • For body areas other than face: Lotions or sprays work best for large areas owing to easy spreadability.

Let’s talk about SPF?

What are these numbers for?

SPF stands for sun protection factor and it is calculated based on how much time it takes to sunburn the skin treated with the sunscreen vis a vis the skin with no sunscreen.

SPF calculations mostly take into account the protection from UVB rays. Look for Protection from UVA (PA++) on labels in addition to SPF

An SPF of at least 30 is recommended for Indian skins types {Fitzpatrick Type IV,V } while Caucasians {Fitzpatrick types II,III} need higher SPFs and PA+++ .

SPFs higher than 50 give only a marginal increase in UV protection. Sunscreen is usually washed off by sweating or swimming.

Water resistant sunscreens implies that SPF is maintained for up to 40 minutes in water. Very water resistant means the SPF is maintained for 80 minutes in water.

IS SUNSCREEN THE BEST EFFECTIVE STRATEGY FOR SUN PROTECTION?

Sunscreens should be used year-round, however no product will give you a full immunity from harmful effects of sun exposure. A combination of protective clothing, physical shade, sunscreen and common sense are the best bet against sun damage.

  • Avoid the sun during peak hours {between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m} Keep in mind Snow, sand, water, glass and concrete reflect more light and increase the chance of sun damage, so you need higher SPFs and frequent reapplication in these situations.
  • Wear sun protective clothing like pants, shirts with long sleeves, sunglasses and hats, clothes with a thicker weave and SPF Clothing.
  •  UV rays can pass through clouds, so don’t skip sunscreen even on cloudy days.
  • UV rays can pass through glass windows, so wear a sunscreen even indoors if there is significant light entering your house/office.

THE CORRECT WAY TO USE SUNSCREEN?

  • Apply liberal amounts of sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes prior to going outdoors.
  • Use sunscreen on all skin surfaces that might be exposed to the sun.
  •  Apply a lip balm or lipstick with an SPF of least 15 to your lips.
  • Reapply every 3-4 hours.

Remember that when a sunscreen is developed and tested for SPF its applied at a density of 2.0 mg/cm2 of skin surface. So, you get best protection at this density, anything higher is of no additional benefit but anything lower (which is pretty common) will leave you significantly less protected than the SPF mentioned. This density roughly translates to a quarter teaspoon on face. So make sure you apply adequate amount because less amount will render it less effective than the SPF it mentions.

A WORD ABOUT ECOLOGICAL DAMAGE DUE TO SUNSCREENS

In a study, published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology in 2016, scientists found that some chemicals in sunscreen and cosmetics are highly toxic to juvenile corals and other marine life. The compounds enter the rivers and oceans both through wastewater effluent and directly from swimmers wearing sunscreens. Oxybenzone or Benzophenone -3 is the main culprit, others being Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-Benzylidene camphor, nano-Titanium dioxide, nano-Zinc oxide. In context of this recent discovery, it kind of makes sense to use less of these marine life damaging sunscreens and use clothing, shade in conjunction with sunscreen for sun protection.

MY FAVOURITE SUNSCREENS?

  • AVENE Cleanance SOLAIRE SPF 50 Mattifying sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Ultrasheer Dry Touch sunblock SPF 50
  • CLINIQUE Mineral sunscreen SPF 50
  • AVENE high protection SPF 50 cream/ emulsion (dry skin/ oily skin respectively)
  • Vichy Laboratoires Ideal Soleil range
  • Bioderma Photoderm SPF 50 sun cream
  • Z block and Z screen SPF 50 sunscreen (Ethicare remedies)
  • Photostable sunscreen (Sun Pharma)
  • Forest Essentials Light Day Lotion with SPF 25
  • Dr Andrew Weils for ORIGINS Mega Mushroom defense sunscreen lotion SPF 45
  • LA SHIELD Sunscreen gel SPF 40
  • Solset Blu sunscreen gel SPF 30
  • Loreal Paris UV Perfect SPF 50 Sun Protector
  • Perenne Cosmetics Sun Essential broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 50

P.S. Any products featured on the blogs are items that I love and have handpicked. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Please be rest assured that I would never recommend anything I don’t truly believe in.All opinions remain my own.

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