Choosing The Right Sunscreen

. 3 min read

This is the third in our three-part series on taking care of your skin during summer. Our first post covered how summer heat affects your skin, and in our last blog post, we covered the importance of staying photo-protected. In this final post in our summer series, we cover something essential that we should all include as a part of our regular routine – sunscreen.

What is sunscreen?
Sunscreen consists of agents that alter the effect of UV radiation on the skin by reflecting or absorbing a part of the incident radiation.

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How do you choose the right sunscreen?
SPF is a factor of sun protection – it indicates how much sun exposure we can take before our skin is vulnerable to photo-damage.

While not providing protection against chronic photo-damage or UVA exposure, a sunscreen of SPF 15 will provide 94% protection against intense UV rays, one with SPF 30 provides 97% protection, and one with SPF 50 provides 98% protection. Ideally in summer you should use SPF50. SPF ratings higher than this don’t provide a significant increase in terms of protection.

To ensure maximum effect, and to continue their photo-protective benefit, you must apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes prior to sun exposure, and reapply it every 2 to 3 hours. Additionally, if you are going to be exposed to water, make sure to get an appropriate sunscreen. Water-resistant sunscreens will retain their SPF for up to 40 minutes in the water (great for if you’re going to paddle at the beach), while waterproof sunscreens will retain their effectiveness for up to 80 minutes in water (best for if you are going swimming).

Types of sunscreen:
Sunscreens can be organic (chemical) or inorganic (physical), specific for UVA or UVB, or combined UVA-UVB protection.

Organic sunscreens are chemical agents that provide protection by absorbing UV rays. Inorganic sunscreens, also called sun blocks, are physical agents that scatter and reflect UV and visible light.

Earlier formulations of sunscreen left a white screen on the skin, and people often avoided them for this reason. However, newer micronized formulations are available that do not leave a film on the skin, while at the same time providing protection against the sun’s rays.

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Ideally, you should wear an inorganic / physical sunscreen if you are on holidays where you will have consistent exposure to the sun (to protect you from tan and sunburn), and an organic / chemical sunscreen for daily use, to protect you from the sun’s ageing effect.

Why do we need to wear sunscreen indoors?
Photo-damage can occur even while you are indoors. Depending on how darkly tinted your windows are, it will absorb only some of the UV rays and visible light (darker tints absorb more of the harmful rays).

Therefore it’s always advisable to wear sunscreen even while indoors, especially if you like natural light streaming through your home!

Make sunscreen a habit
To best protect your skin, use sunscreen on a regular basis, but make sure it is part of your daily routine during summer, whether you are indoors or out, at the office or at the beach.

Have fun this summer and make sure your skin is summer ready!

If at any time during this summer you are experiencing sunburn or any skin irritation, or simply want to consult a dermatologist online for any other reason – consult our doctors now: