Perhaps one of your oldest memories is squirming while your mom smothered your face with white lotion. You didn’t like it. You didn’t enjoy it. You wanted to go out into the sun, jump in the pool, or swim on the beach as soon as you could. But your mom always made sure you had sunscreen before you went out. Why is that? Here are a couple of reasons:
She didn’t want you to get a bad sunburn. Nothing is more painful than having red skin that stings. Eventually, it peels off, and that hurts even more. Why does this happen? Sunburn is caused by too much exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. What a lot of people might not have known so much back then is that too much exposure to the sun can cause more than sunburns—it can cause cancer.
Now, people are more conscious of sun exposure. Not just because they want to avoid sunburns or skin cancer, but also because they want to avoid premature skin aging. That’s right. Exposure to the sun can cause aging. To get a better grip on the science of it all, let’s first discuss the two different ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB. UVB is what causes sunburn. On the other hand, UVA penetrates deeper into the skin and has a lot to do with aging.
In fact, the beauty industry is capitalizing heavily on the effects of UVA on the skin. Their sunscreens fly off the shelves usually because they market the product as anti-aging. In a sense, it is. By blocking UVA, these sunscreens protect your skin from premature aging. It’s no wonder that in every basic beauty routine, there is always sunscreen. Using sunscreen also maintains a fair skin tone. Again, this is one of the heavily marketed purposes of sunscreens.
A good rule thumb to follow is that sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 30. The higher SPF it contains, the more efficient it is at protecting you. But what does SPF even mean? Actually, it simply means—Sun Protection Factor. It’s a number that indicates how well it protects the skin from the sun’s UV rays. It’s highly recommended that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen because it protects you from both UVA and UVB.
You can have two options for sunscreens: mineral and chemical. These days, there are sunscreens that combine both. Mineral sunscreens are also called physical sunscreens. They act as a physical barrier that reflects the UV rays. These sunscreens basically sit on top of your skin, where it offers broad protection against all types of UV rays. But you need to apply a liberal amount.
Unfortunately, this type of sunscreens usually has a white cast to them—as if you have a thin layer of white material on your face. They are easily removed by sweating or rubbing, so you might need frequent reapplication.
On the other hand, chemical sunscreens are absorbed by the skin. These types of chemicals stay there to absorb the UV rays and transform them into heat. You need less amount of this type of sunscreen to get full protection. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do as well as mineral or physical sunscreens in protecting your skin from UVA.
There are varying sunscreen products in the market today. There are lotions, sticks, creams, and sprays. There are even SPF in powders, lip balms, and make-up products such as foundation and bb creams.
You can always choose the sunscreen based on your preference. But to make a purposeful purchase, try to read the label and study the ingredient list. Choose lotions over other types of sunscreen products because based on research, its consistency offers better SPF protection than other types of sunscreens.
You have to consider how long you will out in the sun. If you’re going to be out for more than 2 hours, reapply sunscreen 2 to 3 hours, or every 120 to 180 minutes. Don’t blindly rely on SPF numbers as well. Finally, apply properly. Wait for at least 20 minutes for the sunscreen to form a film on your skin. This way, you won’t be missing spots.
Being under the sun can be so exciting. But remember to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays by applying sunscreen with the right SPF.