Your skin has natural properties that protect it from UV rays. However, as heat and radiation intensifies, and with prolonged sun exposure, your skin needs all the help it can get. Sunscreens provide you with added sun blocking power to keep the UVA and UVB radiation off of your skin.
UVB sunscreens leave instantly visible marks on your skin. It is the UVB rays that cause your skin to burn swell and redden. UVB is the target of Sun Protection Factor (SPF) written on labels. SPF does not protect you from UVA, even though as much as 95% of the radiation that reaches the earth are UVA. UVA rays deeply penetrate your skin, causing long-term damage, and are particularly significant contributors to aging skin.
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1Are all sunscreens the same?
The most common type of sunscreens are made with chemical blockers that include Octinoxate, Octisalate and Homosalate — three of the most commonly used ingredients in chemical sunscreens. All of which are capable of blocking only UVB. Broad spectrum sunscreens will often contain Avobenzone or mineral sunscreens such as Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. Chemical sunscreens act on radiation by chemically altering its composition so that it turns to heat.
The trouble with traditional sunscreens is that while they provide effective sun protection, they also expose you to other health risks. The Environmental Working Group, which reviews consumer products for chemical safety, has warned that chemical sunscreens can turn into toxins when absorbed by the body, and can even bio magnify and be passed on from mother to child. These disrupt normal functioning of several hormone-related body processes which can cause organ dysfunction.
The other types are composed of mineral sunscreens. Originally placed as sunscreen for sensitive skin, these are now also the more preferred type for safety reasons.
2Choose your sunscreen wisely
Get yourself a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection. It will protect you from both UVA and UVB radiation. Check the SPF. Keep in mind that it indicates how much longer you can stay under the sun. If your skin burns within 15 minutes without sunscreen, your skin is able to resist the sun by 30 times more when you use a sunscreen labeled SPF 30.
Keep in mind that there is no sunscreen that can completely shield your skin from all UV rays.
3Pick up a sunscreen for sensitive skin
Sunscreen can be highly toxic. Choose mineral sunscreens which physically block UV rays rather than absorbing them, and which will not seep into skin. This is also the type of sunscreen for sensitive skin.
4Apply sunscreen generously on all areas of your skin at least 15 minutes before going out in the sun
It takes between 15 to 30 minutes for sunscreen to become well incorporated into your skin.
Ordinary clothing won’t keep the sun from reaching your skin. That’s why you should put on sunscreen even on areas covered by clothing. If you want to get better sun protection from your clothes, wear clothing with a high UV Protection Factor (UPF) rating.
5Reapply after every soak or excessive sweating
Otherwise, reapply every two hours of sun exposure. For maximum and prolonged protection, choose a waterproof sunscreen. Still, reapplication throughout the day is a must.
6Rinse off thoroughly
Avoid skin irritations and blemishes by washing off sunscreen completely at the end of the day. Doing so also helps minimize your risks of getting harmed by any potentially hazardous ingredients in sunscreen.
It’s not enough that you buy and apply sunscreens because not all of them are created equal. Even if you do find a qualified sunscreen, you have to know the right way to use it.