HYDERABAD: Summers are notoriously getting hotter and it is time we get cautious about our skin. Thanks to the unhealthy lifestyle we lead, we tend to forget the most basic activity of shielding our skin from the harsh UV rays.
Most of us neglect applying a sunscreen but apply moisturiser instead and let our skin get exposed to the harsh rays.
Covering the face with scarfs and applying 50 and higher SPFs (sun protection factor) is of no use. Most people understand that higher SPF mean higher protection, but there are a lot of misconceptions about spfs.
For example, SPF 15 and SPF 30 are both common numbers and it is incorrect to assume that SPF 30 offers twice the protection or lasts for twice as long. SPF 15 blocks about 93% of the UV rays while SPF 30 blocks about 97% and SPF 50 blocks about 98%. Ideally for a normal skin exposure, SPF 15 to 25 is good enough. If the SPF is higher, it is damaging to skin as it has more of zinc and octobenzene compounds, which are harsh on skin and can cause patches and dehydration.
Effects of sunlight:
1.UVA can penetrate deeper influencing collagen which causes darkening and aging
2.Too much of sun exposure damages deeper layers of skin. It is called Photoburn.
3.Frequent and prolonged exposure can cause cancer too.
Sunscreen and its uses:
Sunscreen is nothing but any topical product be it lotion,spray or gel that can absorb or reflect sun’s UV rays. Protection from sun dates back to early centuries where humans used plant products to protect themselves from harmful effects of sun. For examplem the Greeks used olive oil, while Egyptians used extracts of rice and jasmine.These active principles are being used in making sunscreens till date.
All conventional sunscreens protect against UVB rays in particular, however those with broad spectrum have protection against UVA+UVB.
There are two types of protection. Physical, which reflect UV rays. It was also called Sunblock (usage of this term is banned now). Chemical protection absorbs UV rays. We call it sunscreen.
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) measures the fraction of sunburn producing UV rays that reach the skin. For example: SPF 15 means 1/15th of the burning radiation reaches the skin through the recommended thickness of sunscreen.
Protection against sunburn/photoburn.
Prevents signs of aging (wrinkles, leathery skin).
Protection against phototanning.
Protection against skin cancers especially SCC and melanoma.
20 ingredients are approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as sunscreen. Minimising UV damage is especially important for children,fair complexion people and in those having skin sensitivity due to medical reasons.
How to choose the right SPF and sunscreen:
Fair skin people need a higher SPF compared to the dusky people or people with age-related, acne, rosacea issues. Sunscreens with higher SPF do not tend to stay longer than those with lower SPF and need re-application at least every two hours.
Side-effects of sunscreen:
Some sunscreen products like PABA can cause staining.
Few people might have allergic reactions of the skin like rash,itching.
It can make the acne worse.
Vitamin D deficiency on prolonged use as it interferes with the synthesis by preventing the sun rays from reaching the Skin.
Carcinogenic especially Zno and Tio2
Sunscreen is an important part of sun protection regime which includes other measures like seeking shade, avoid tanning,protective clothing and UV blocking sunglasses.