Sunscreen 101

I was planning a 101 series on the blog and a friend (who has just recently started reading my blog) requested for a detailed post on sunscreens. And just recently Lakme shared its R&D reports with me. So I had to write this! This post deals with myths and FAQs regarding sunscreens. Also there are recommendations in the end according to your lifestyle. In future when I review a sunscreen, I will just link it with this page and save some time!

But before I start let me show you what compelled me to write this post.
Recently there was a case of a truck driver all over in the newspapers. Here it is in brief:

truck driver sun case
sun exposure for 28 years

This guy is 69 years old, but half of his face looks much, much older than that. He was a trucker and, for 28 years, his face received much more sunlight on the left side, resulting on premature aging.  His condition is called unilateral dermatoheliosis, from the Greek dermis and helios, skin and sun. It’s also called photoaging, and it results from chronic exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. In his case, it only affected the left side of his face because of his work. As he drove, he received much many hours of sunlight through the left window of his vehicle. The case was discovered and studied by Jennifer R.S. Gordon and Joaquin C. Brieva, dermatologists at Northwestern University

We all knew that being exposed to the sun makes you age prematurely, but seeing the dramatic difference in a single face is just stunning. Here are some common myths people have regarding sunscreens.

Myth: If you are dark skinned, you don’t need sunscreen.
Fact: Sun damage doesn’t depend on your complexion. True, dark skin implies presence of a higher melanin in the skin – offering more natural protection than light skin. However, extra melanin doesn’t guard the skin from the sun’s UV rays that accelerate ageing, cause pigmentation and sunspots. If you are dark skinned, use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an spf of 15 or more.

Myth: A sunscreen with SPF 30 is a good as one with higher SPF.
Fact: No a higher SPF is always better. You get 99% sun protection with SPF 90 as compared to 96% protection with SPF 30. Over a lifetime, this difference can add upto lot less skin damage.

Myth: Putting on lots of sunscreen at the start of the day will protect you all day long.
Fact: Do this and you might end up with a sunburn! Because sunscreen wears off and must be re-applied every 3 hours or more frequently while sweating or swimming. Also, be liberal with the amount of sunscreen you use, for optimum protection from the sun.

FAQs

What is tanning?
The sun emits two kinds of harmful rays: UVA rays and UVB rays. UVB rays affect the skin’s surface and cause sunburns. UVA rays penetrate all the way to the deepest layers of the skin and trigger cells called melanocytes to produce a brown pigment called melanin. This pigment rises to the surface of the skin and forms a tan.
Is tanning harmful to my skin?
YES. Tanning is a visible proof that the sun’s UVA rays have caused damage deep within your skin. Damages include sun spots, age lines and pigmentation. Tan disappears in some time.
Does that mean the deep-skin damage disappears too?
NO. Even if you have tanned in the past and are now free of this tan, the damage has been done deep inside. Remember, you can erase a tan, but not deep-skin damage.
What exactly are UVA and UVB rays? What do they do?
Ultra Violet A (UVA) rays – UVA are long wave solar rays that penetrate deep into the skin and are the cause behind surface damage like tanning and deep-skin damages like sun spots, age lines, pigmentation. The latest study shows that UVA rays may directly cause some skin cancers, including melanoma. Ultra Violet B (UVB) rays- UVB are short wave solar rays and cause surface damage on the skin. These rays are considered the main cause of sun burns, severe redness and peeling of skin.

There are approximately 500 times more UVA rays in the sunlight than UVB rays. Therefore in addition to protecting your skin from the effects of UVB rays, it is also very important to protect it from the damaging effects of UVA rays.


What is SPF?
SPF is the universal measurement of UVB protection. It stands for Sun Protection Factor. It measures the amount of time sunscreen protects the skin against reddening from UVB rays, compared to how long the skin takes to redden without protection. When comparing products that protect the skin from harmful effects of UVB rays, the term SPF is often used. SPF describes the amount of protection that a sunscreen provides. A higher SPF number indicates protection from more rays. SPF relates only to the ability of a sunscreen to block sun burning UVB rays. SPF does not relate to the ability of a sunscreen to block UVA rays.
What are PA+, PA++, PA+++ and why are they important?
UVA rays are considered more harmful than UVB rays because they cause long term deep-skin damage. ‘PA’ ranking refers to the amount of protection that sunscreen offers from the UVA rays. PA rankings are listed as PA+, PA++ and PA+++. The more plus signs (+) there are, the more you will be protected from UVA rays.
How do I choose the right sunscreen?

There are many factors to take into consideration when deciding which sunscreen to use and buy. For example, just because a bottle says SPF 15 or UV protection doesn’t necessarily mean that it is an effective sunscreen that will guard your skin. You’ll want to remember and look for the words ‘UVA and UVB rays’. Ideally choose from SPF 24, 30 and 50 along with a PA ranking (+, ++ or +++)

Do I have to wear sunscreen when it is overcast and cloudy?

Sun’s rays can pass through even thick clouds and cause damage to your skin. So no matter what the weather forecast is, always wear sunscreen. Can I get sun burnt even after I have applied sunscreen?
Sunscreens are a temporary defense against UV radiation. Always re-apply every 2-3 hours while you are out in the sun. Also remember to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before stepping out. Make sure you are using a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 24 and PA + ranking. Depending on your sun exposure, you may want to move to a SPF of 30/50 and PA++ and PA+++ sunscreen. Ensure that you re-apply every 2-3 hours.
What are Non-Comedogenic products?
Non-comedogenic products do not clog pores and hence do not cause acne or breakouts. Always look for non-comedogenic sunscreens.
What are ‘hypoallergenic’ products?
A ‘hypoallergenic’ product is one which is proven to cause fewer allergic reactions against skin. A hypoallergenic sunscreen is absolutely safe to use on facial skin and body.
What do you mean by ‘Dermatologically Tested’ products?
A ‘Dermatologically Tested’ product is one which has been tested and recommended by certified skin experts/dermatologists.
If I have oily skin/ normal skin/dry skin which sunscreen should I use?
Lakmé Sun Expert range has sunscreens meant for different skin types, ranging from normal to dry skin, and oily skin type as well. Look for a label on the bottle that indicates which skin type it is for.
Should I use a sunscreen before or after applying a moisturizer/foundation?
Always apply sunscreen before applying makeup, foundation or your moisturizer. There should be a gap of 15-20 minutes between sunscreen application and other skin products application so that the sunscreen has time to soak into your skin and form a protective layer.
If I use a foundation with SPF, do I need to apply a sunscreen?
YES, you need to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen before applying makeup. Foundation with SPF will not give you complete protection from the harmful UVA and UVB rays. So remember to protect your skin before beautifying it.
How much sunscreen should I apply?
Apply 1/2 teaspoon of sunscreen on your face and neck and 1 teaspoon on the exposed parts of your body.
What is the ideal age to start applying sunscreens?
You can start applying sunscreens from the age of 10. It is completely safe.
Can I use a sunscreen if I have sensitive skin?
Lakmé Sun Expert range has sunscreen lotions for different skin types – normal skin to dry/ oily skin. However if you have oily/sensitive skin, always do a patch test. Apply a small amount on the inside of your elbow or behind your ear. If there are no reactions, then you can start applying sunscreen over the rest of your face and body.

Lakme has launched a new range of sunscreens called the Sun Expert range. It has got a variety of sunscreens with different SPF numbers and different skin types. For more descriptive information on the range go here.

Here is a guide for you to select the most suitable sunscreen

Choose your Lifestyle. Know your Sun Facts. 

Choose a lifestyle that best defines you & find out which sunscreen is ideal for you.

Working Woman

During your daily commute to work, you are exposed to the suns harmful UV rays. But the exposure continues even after you’ve entered office; glass windows, blinds etc. cannot stop the sun’s UV rays.

Recommend
Lakme Sun Expert Fairness+UV lotion SPF 24 ++ 
Lakme Sun Expert Fairness+UV lotion SPF 30+
Lakme Sun Expert Fairness+UV lotion SPF 30 ++

The Beach Woman
A beach holiday maybe one of the best ways to relax, but its the most stressful time for your skin. The sun is the strongest in the tropics and you should frequently apply a high performance sunscreen from sunrise to sundown.

Recommend
Lakme Sun Expert Fairness+UV lotion SPF 50 +++

The Sporty Woman
If you are an athlete or simply love a game in the sun, it’s a must for you to carry sunscreen at all times. Since you are outdoor for long periods of time, your skin stays exposed to the harmful rays of the sun for longer.

Recommend
Lakme Sun Expert Fairness+UV lotion SPF 50 +++

Travelling Woman
Does you work involve a lot of travelling? Or do you simply travel for the love of it? In either case you spend a considerable amount of time in the sun and should consider it your enemy.

Recommend
•Lakme Sun Expert Fairness+UV lotion SPF 30 ++
Lakme Sun Expert Fairness+UV lotion SPF 50 +++
 
Comment below or mail me if you have any questions.
Have fun in the sun!
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Founder and Editor-in-chief, VNA. When she is not moonlighting as the editor, you can find her watching american sitcoms and movies. She is a huge lover of literature, instagram, snapchat and food and could possibly be more passionate about these than makeup!

5 COMMENTS

  1. Very well compiled article Anshita :) I was irregular wearing sunscreens but come this year and I saw the damn effects,, because I drive my right arm is more tanned than my left arm,,but yes with regular sunscreen and some home remedies the tan has reduced,,but still its THERE :|

    :D Thanks for clearing so many doubts :)

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