Sun protection is one of the essential & crucial step of your skincare regimen, which is oftenly ignored. Why to use sunscreen? Which one to choose? What is sun protection factor? Read on to know all the basics of sunscreen you always wanted to learn.
We need sunscreen in order to protect our skin surface and the layers underneath from the sun’s damaging rays.
What is Sun Protection Factor or SPF?
It is a measure of how long a sunscreen will provide protection from ultraviolet rays mainly UVB and UVA.
What are UVA & UVB rays?
- Longer ultraviolet rays.
- Cause wrinkles, skin aging, uneven skin tone and dark spots.
- Go deeper into skin than UVB rays. It is the main reason of collagen breakdown by penetrating to dermis (second layer of skin).
- Can penetrate through clouds and glass.
- Shorter ultraviolet rays.
- Cause sunburn, redness and skin cancer
- Mostly damage the superficial layer of skin.
- Do not penetrate through glass.
Types of Sunscreen?
Sunscreen is mainly mainly classified into two categories;
- Sits on top of skin surface.
- Mineral active ingredients Zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
- Create a barrier that reflects UV rays.
- Absorbed into the skin.
- Chemical actives ingredients carbon based compounds such as oxybenzone and octinoxate.
- Absorbs UV rays and turn them into heat.
Then there is another type which is called hybrid sunscreen, it adds components of both above categories.
SPF Numbers & Labels:
It is no brainer to include sunscreen into your skincare regime if you take skin protection seriously. However, no sunscreen can filter out 100% of ultraviolet rays. A quick number detail is as follows;
SPF 15 > 93% of UVB rays
SPF 30 > 97% of UVB rays
SPF 50 > 98% of UVB rays
Products with higher SPF rating often give a not-so-true sense of protection.
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1. SPF number
2. Broad spectrum
3. PPD rating
“Broad spectrum” provides protection against both UVA & UVB rays. “PPD rating” is a way of measuring UVA protection, as in how much longer it takes for the skin to tan.
We get a specific amount of SPF units against every 1% of each active ingredient. Such as;
Zinc oxide 1.6 (per 1%)
Titanium dioxide 2.6 (per 1%)
If the sunscreen contents suggest it has 5% of titanium dioxide and 15% of zinc oxide. For each percent it will give 2.6% and 1.6% of SPF respectively.
(5 x 2.6) + (15 x 1.6) = SPF 37
According to FDA sunscreens is required to be tested at ???/??². This is approximately equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon for your face. Reducing the amount will decrease your sun protection.
Reapplication is what we mostly do not pay attention to. It is important to reapply after every 60 to 90 minutes, specially if you are exposed to UV rays.
There’s a popular misconception that you can spend more time in the sun when using the higher SPF. Whereas in reality without reapplication, a higher number won’t provide sufficient protection.
Making SPF a part of your routine:
“Consistency is the key” applies here as well. Aligning your re-application routine with your wudhu timings will make it easier. Moreover, there are some apps reminding to reapply SPF.
Let’s burst some of the popular myths about sunscreen.
Sunscreen Not required, when indoor:
FACT: UVA rays can penetrate through glass, which can cause skin aging, wrinkles and skin cancer. Unless you are in a room, which is as dark as possible and not a tiny percentage of the sun rays are peeking in, you need to wear it indoors as well.
No Sunscreen on a cloudy day:
FACT: Ultraviolet rays penetrate through clouds, hence you need to wear sunscreen for protection even when it’s cloudy.
Sunscreens cause skin cancer:
FACT: It provides protection against UV rays which are the cause of skin cancer.
Darker skin tones do not need sunscreens:
FACT: Melanin does not block UVA damage, hence chances of wrinkles, skin cancer and aging are there.
One application of sunscreen is enough for the whole day:
FACT: Sunscreen doesn’t stay fresh the whole day, it loses its effectiveness in the sun, therefore we need to reapply.
No need to wear sunscreen in winters:
FACT: the sun is there during winter season, so are the damaging UV rays and the requirement of wearing sunscreen.
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