With the sun’s rays getting harsher; a sun-protection 101 is the need of the hour!
Applying a sunscreen every day before leaving the house in summers is the best and the most recommended protection against the sun’s rays but often times it is found that in spite of practicing this excellent habit dutifully a lot of women find their skins burnt or sun-damaged by the fag end of summer. If this is your story too then you are making one of those sun-protection mistakes that remain unknown until someone points them out to you. Little knowledge can be a dangerous thing and in this case it might lead to skin damage and premature ageing! Here’s what to keep in mind as you don the sun-screen…
Facts about SPF
“Which SPF number should I go for?”
This is the most common question that pops up in the minds of every woman as they stand in front of the sunscreen aisle. The simple answer is – it does not matter what SPF number you are wearing if you aren’t RE-APPLYING at intervals of every two to three hours!
The SPF math: SPF is the sun protection factor. It denotes the amount of time you can stay safely in sun without the dangers of sun damage. Ideally, if you are using a sun-screen with SPF 15 it will take your skin fifteen times longer to burn with the sunscreen on than without it. This comes down to 150 minutes since it normally takes ten minutes of unprotected sun exposure for the skin to burn. Likewise, the protection period of SPF 30 should last for 300 minutes!
Since SPF 30 supposedly equals five hours of protection, a lot of women get lulled into the false sense of security that they can put it on and get done for the day! This is the most classic rookie sun-protection mistake! The SPF math sounds all too good in theory but the reality is that it all comes down to nothing if you don’t reapply every two to three hours when out of doors in the scorching sun-light.
So now your breaking news is that an SPF of 60 does not mean twice the protection of SPF 30. You do not need a higher SPF quotient for adequate protection. Proper and repeated re-application is all that’s needed. Carry a tube of sun-block with you and put it on after every three hours when out in the sun for fool-proof protection.
Broad spectrum protection trumps SPF
As for the protection against the UV rays, an SPF 30 will only give you 4% more coverage than SPF 15 and you thought it was double the protection, right? As you move on to the higher numbers (SPF 40, 50, 70) that percentage comes down. So, when you are looking for sun-screens instead of caring about how high the SPF is, focus on investing in one which comes with broad spectrum protection, i.e. protection against UVA and UVB rays. Look for products with Mexoryl, Helioplex, Zinc Oxide or Titanium Oxide. Choosing the right protection formula is very important here because in absence of proper resistance these rays can cause a lot more harm that just tanning and burns. They are capable of penetrating deep into the skin and causing the collagen to break down; thus reducing skin’s elasticity and causing pre-mature ageing and fine lines.
Bottom line: It is okay if your sunscreen does not have a high SPF number as long as it offers broad spectrum protection and is being applied by you at regular intervals. In fact, it is best to keep the SPF number low since there really isn’t any point in exposing your skin to more chemicals than it needs!
If this knowledge is new to you then it’s natural to feel a little puzzled since the various advertisements and our half baked knowledge leads many of us to believe that a high SPF is the “be all and end all” of sun protection! Now that you know the real case, pick your sun-screens wisely and spread the knowledge.
Feel free to ask us any question that you might have on this matter and know that your views are always needed!