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Benefits of Sunscreen

In recent years, sunscreen is playing a major role in terms of protecting oneself from the sun. However, it not only safeguards you from the sun but remains important for your overall appearance and the health of your skin. If sunscreen is used as prescribed, it aids in preventing premature aging like leathery skin, wrinkles, and sunburns and minimizes the chances of skin cancer. It also helps in decreasing sun sensitivity or sunburn-like skin responses caused due to medications including sulfa drugs, tetracyclines, phenothiazines like chlorpromazine.

Most people think that by wearing sunscreen they can stay long in the outdoors or under the sun. Remember, sunscreen cannot safeguard you from the entire radiation. Ensure to cover your face, lips, hands, and backside of your hands with gloves and mask, and wear hats for complete protection. Apply sunscreen twenty or thirty minutes before you step outdoors. When applying, ensure to apply generously to the exposed areas. Smooth or rub it on your skin until the cream/lotion gets absorbed.

Sunscreens are available in various forms like lip balm, spray, stick, gel, lotion, and cream. It is important to select a sunscreen as per your skin type and exposure. To assist in making informed decisions, you will find answers to frequently asked questions that patients ask their dermatologists.

Ingredients in sunscreen?

The majority of sunscreen formulations consist of at least two Ultra Violet filter ingredients. Some of the common ingredients found in sunscreens are as follows:

  1. Trolamine salicylate para-aminobenzoic acid
  2. Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
  3. Zinc oxide
  4. Titanium dioxide
  5. Octinoxate
  6. Oxybenzone
  7. Avobenzone
  8. Mexoryl SX
  9. Tinosorb S

These ingredients are effective for stopping sun damage and serve as the best UV absorber. However, if you have sensitive skin, you need to avoid sunscreens with ingredients like Oxybenzone and PABA. 

How sunscreens work on the skin?

The Ultra-Violet (UV) rays that are exposed on the surface of Earth contain UVA and UVB photons. UVB rays that have shorter wavelengths do not penetrate deeply into the skin and thus damage the DNA. UVA rays have longer wavelengths and penetrate deep layers of skin, producing free radicals. Certain main skin conditions like skin cancer and sunburn are due to UVB rays. UVA exposure is connected to immunological issues and premature skin aging.

The sunscreen product serves similar to a thin bulletproof vest. It stops ultraviolet photons before they get in contact with the skin and cause damage. The sunscreen products consist of organic sunscreen particles that absorb inorganic and UV pigments that captivate, scatter and replicate UV. If you need utmost protection, you should select sunscreen products with adequate quantities of these safeguarding agents. It has to be applied to the valleys and peaks of skin evenly.

Main benefits of wearing sunscreen?

Sunscreen is recommended for everyone. Children (above six months of age), women, and men can use sunscreen on all days. Sunscreen is recommended for individuals who tan quickly and who do not tan. The skin gets damaged because of sun exposure when you are outside for a long time, though you find traces of burns or not. As babies have sensitive skin, they do not have to use sunscreen creams or lotions. The infants can be protected by covering them with sun protective clothing, shade structure, and keeping them out of the sun.

·        Reduces the presence of sunspots:

When your skin is exposed to harmful UV rays, there are chances to witness sunspots. It is also referred to as liver spots or age spots. It is the main culprit for your skin as it gives the aging look to your face. Sunspots appear easily in the body parts like the back, arms, backside of the hands, shoulders, and face. Due to sunspots, you can notice discolored skin or skin in different forms of brown.

·        Eliminate broken blood vessels:

Broken blood vessels are also referred to as telangiectasias. The UV rays damage the blood vessel walls of the skin and result in thinning. As the blood vessels thin, they leave the presence of bleeding or bruising.

·        Safeguard from sunburn:

When the skin is exposed to UV light or sun without any protection, it results in a serious burn. If the skin is repeatedly exposed to the sun without protection, it is possible to notice increased skin damage and sunspots. It takes a long time to heal the sunburn. Be it the weather is cloudy or cool, it is important to wear sunscreen when stepping outdoors.

·        Maintains even complexion:

By applying sunscreen regularly, you can maintain an even complexion. One of the main reasons for uneven skin complexion or tone is skin damage. Daily application helps in preventing these effects.

·        Reduces the chances of cancer:

Sunscreen is effective in eliminating the chances of developing various kinds of skin cancers like melanoma. It is extremely aggressive skin cancer and remains life-threatening. Notice cumulative protection within certain days or months by applying the sunscreen continuously.

How often should I wear sunscreen?

Sunscreen has to be applied every one to two hours and is highly recommended after sweating or swimming. It has to be generously applied throughout the exposed body parts even though you are inside the house. Reapplication is necessary as it helps in maintaining the sunscreen’s protective effect. 

What other creams/lotions should be worn along with sunscreen?

Moisturizer can be applied as a base layer before wearing the sunscreen. Apply sunscreen after the skin absorbs the moisturizer fully. Be it you are using chemical or mineral sunscreen; it can be applied after the moisturizer. If you want maximum protection from harmful rays, the sunscreen has to be applied over the foundation. If needed, you can wash and reapply, although most women do not prefer that. It can be applied underneath any skincare product, moisturizer, or makeup.

How to choose a sunscreen?

While selecting a sunscreen, you should consider the ingredients or chemical components that may develop allergies in your skin. For example, some people will be allergic to specific ingredients. So, you have to make sure that the ingredients do not affect you externally and also internally like causing a disturbance in hormonal balance. Look at the product’s potential toxicity and safety before purchasing. Some of the main points to consider while selecting sunscreen for your skin are as follows:

·        Evaluate the Sun Protection Factor

·        Choose a sunscreen with SPF between 30 and 50 and broad-spectrum coverage

·        Check the formulas and active components in the sunscreen

·        Evaluate how many hours you will be under the sun

·        Kind of activities/tasks you will be undertaking under the sun

·        Pick the right sunscreen formulation like sticks, lotions, or sprays

Sunscreen for different skin types

There are separate sunscreens for acne-prone skin, sensitive skin, oily skin, and dry skin. If you know your skin condition and type, you can select sunscreen accordingly.

Dry Skin : Individuals with dry skin can select a sunscreen that contains hydrating ingredients such as ceramides or hydraulic acid.

Oily skin: You can buy sunscreens that contain a matte finish. They can protect with their SPF 30 formula, control oil, and at the same time maintain hydration. When you buy sunscreens that are designed especially for oily skin, they absorb quickly, are non-comedogenic, and remain lightweight.

Combination Skin : Most people possess a combination skin type. It means the skin will be normal and dry in some parts and oily in certain parts. In most cases, the skin may look oily in the chin, forehead, and nose (T-zone area). It is best to choose a sunscreen that is recommended for combination skin to reduce the damage caused due to skin exposure. You would notice the sunscreen with the label ‘recommended for combination skin’. Go for it without any hesitation.

Sunscreen form Men: As per dermatologists, sunscreens with broad-spectrum SPF 30 or more are best for men. The mineral sunscreen is water-resistant and offers excellent coverage. It is also hypoallergenic for individuals with sensitive skin. Look for sunscreens with Vitamin E and antioxidants as it aids in reducing free radicals caused by the sun. Sunscreens with SPF 100 may look expensive but serve as a sunshade for your skin.

Should I use different sunscreen for different seasons?

It is recommended to always have two sunscreens with you- a regular lotion for the outdoors and indoors and a water-resistant sunscreen when you are working out or remain in the sun for long hours. Ensure both the sunscreens come with SPF 30 and broad-spectrum labels as such creams aid in protecting against both UVB and UVA rays. Do not cut your skincare regimen due to the onset of monsoon showers. It is important to keep your skin and body well-nourished and well-hydrated irrespective of the season.