We have all been told of the importance of sunscreen. It has been a constant mantra of dermatologists and beauticians alike. But whether we have been listening is a whole other question. Because the more we are learning, the more apparent it becomes just how much its role in the care and protection of our skin has been underestimated.
And that’s surprising given that the very name tells us what it does i.e. screening and protecting our skin from the sun. However, the name does not exactly elaborate on why this protection offered by sunscreen is so important and necessary.
So, lets break it down.
The importance of sunscreen:
- Protects from harsh UV rays
Yes, it protects our skin from the sun’s harmful ultra violet rays. What this actually means is that it helps prevent sunburn, skin irritation, and even rashes that could be caused by exposure to these UV rays.
- Reduces the risk of skin cancers
Regular and daily use of sunscreen drastically reduces the risk of developing skin cancers like squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
- Prevents premature ageing of the skin
Sun damage contributes to premature ageing, or photoaging, of the skin. This results in the development of wrinkles, sagging skin, and even a leathery look.
- Helps maintain an even skin tone
Sun damage has far-reaching effects, literally. UV rays can cause the blood vessels on the skin to thin out which gives rise to a mottled appearance, including discolouration and dark spots. Sunscreen application allows you to maintain a smoother, and more even skin tone.
With the importance of sunscreen firmly established, let’s get into the dos and don’ts of sunscreen:
Do choose an effective sunscreen
How do you know which is most effective? Check the SPF (Sun Protection Factor). It represents the measure of protection offered by the sunscreen against getting sunburned. Ideally, a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher is recommended when spending a large part of your day outdoors.
Another term to look out for is ‘broad spectrum’. This basically means that the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays, thereby significantly increasing its range of protection.
Don’t forget to check the ingredients
Most sunscreens contain a combination of physical and chemical ingredients (each of which play a role in preventing UV radiation from reaching your skin). Physical ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide block the rays, while chemicals such as avobenzone and octisalate absorb the harmful rays before they penetrate the skin. Understanding which ingredients work best with your skin is crucial in ensuring the best results.
Do apply sunscreen everyday
This includes overcast days, as well as days in which you spend most of the time indoors. This is because even a short walk can have a lasting, though not immediately obvious, impact. It is therefore best to make sunscreen application a part of your daily skincare routine.
Don’t forget to reapply
While it is best to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, it is equally important to reapply every two hours (especially during continuous exposure). And though marked as water-resistant, no sunscreen is waterproof; therefore, reapplication after swimming or excessive sweating is a must.
Do consider you skin type
Luckily the range of available sunscreens is wide, and caters to those with dry, oily, sensitive, and acne-prone skin. So, choosing the best one for you doesn’t have to be a painstaking task.
Don’t skimp on the sunscreen
To get the full protection, experts recommend you apply one ounce of sunscreen to your entire body. Or at the very least, every part that is exposed. This includes easy-to-miss areas such as the ears, back of the neck and knees, and tops of the feet.
It is not a fad or a beauty trend, but an actual factor in ensuring your skin’s protection.
Sunscreen is not just important, it is life-saving. So, making it a part of your daily routine should be a no-brainer. The only real question that remains is finding one that works best for you.
Enjoy your time under the sun; and let the sunscreen take care of the rest.
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