It is high time that we embrace the fact that climate change is real and an active occurrence. The ozone layer present in the Earth’s atmosphere protects us from the harmful UV rays emitted by the Sun, but on a day to day basis it is facing damage due to mass pollution. UV rays reach deep within the layers of the skin and cause rashes and sunburn. Combine it with the pollutants that already exist in the air, and together, they can be a lethal threat to your skin. It is sunscreen that protects our skin during the day, and it is essential all round the year. While most people limit the use of sunscreen to Summer, it is a misconception that the Sun is less harmful during other seasons and colder environments. Sun exposure is indiscriminate to places, altitudes, and climatic conditions.
Contrary to the common myth, UV rays are still present and can penetrate your skin on cloudy days. On cloudy days, 80% of UV rays still manage to reach the skin and without a sunscreen majority of these UV rays can penetrate your skin leading to skin damage.
Even when indoors, it is essential to use sunscreen. Though your skin may not be directly exposed to the UV rays, the UVA rays which are responsible for premature ageing, tanning, dark spots, etc. can still penetrate your skin. Moreover, the blue light emitted from mobiles, laptops, tablets, etc. can also cause premature ageing of skin, wrinkles, dark spots, discoloration of skin, collagen breakdown, redness, inflammation, etc.
This makes using sunscreen as important indoors as it is outdoors. When it comes to choosing a sunscreen for indoors, it is best to use one with an SPF 30 or above to protect your skin from UVA, UVB rays and blue light.
Understanding UV Rays and Their Effects on Our Skin
Ultraviolet rays emitted by the Sun comes in three types:
UVC is the most dangerous of the three types, but it rarely gets through the atmosphere and is normally not a concern. 95% of UVA rays pass through the ozone layer, compared to UVB which is 5%. While UVA radiation is responsible for causing fine lines, wrinkles, and spots leading to premature skin ageing, UVB radiation, even though it is comparatively less, is equally notorious, and causes sunburn and skin-cancer-like malignant melanoma (a deadly black mole form of skin cancer). Sunscreen as a sun protection cream is your skin’s best friend regardless of where you live. It cannot be replaced by any ordinary moisturizer as properties and features of the best sunscreen are specifically designed to combat its designated foes - the UV rays and pollutants in the air.
Skin Conditions Caused by UV rays
Collagen and elastin are two key types of proteins found in our skin. Using a sunscreen can help retain the elasticity of your skin. It protects the tissues of your skin against skin ageing and various other skin conditions. But when UV rays enter a defenceless skin, here are the skin conditions that can occur.
- Hyperpigmentation: Our skin has a natural protector called Melanin. It is also responsible for the colour of your skin, hair, and eyes. When our skin is exposed for a prolonged period, it tends to produce more melanin as a self-protective mechanism, which in turn leaves tanned patches on the skin. Hyperpigmentation is caused by this increased level of melanin that leaves dark patches and spots on the skin.
- Dryness: Prolonged exposure to the sun disrupts the functions of natural oils that keep your skin hydrated. Furthermore, it damages the collagen which is also responsible for maintaining skin elasticity, hydration, and the structure of your skin.
- Premature Skin Ageing: Changes like fine-lines, wrinkles, spots, pigmentation, redness, dullness, skin thinning, and spider veins on your skin are caused by damage to the collagen and elastin fibres in your skin.
- Breakouts - Most people assume that sunscreen is dangerous to oily acne-prone skin and can be sensitive to the skin. However, it is scientifically proven that avoiding sunscreen can further aggravate your skin conditions. Exposure to the Sun can cause inflammation and sunburn.
Sunscreens and Its Ingredients
While there is an array of choices available to you in the market, there are some properties you must note to buy a sun protection cream or a sunscreen that is suitable for your skin. There are three types of sunscreen you can choose from: Physical, Hybrid, & Chemical.
Physical sunscreens are great for sensitive skin. They sit on the surface of the skin and reflect the Sun rays and are less irritable. However, it requires more effort to remove as they are also called mineral sunscreens and consist of zinc and titanium oxide.
Chemical sunscreens are organic in nature that penetrate into the skin to absorb the UV rays and convert them to heat before releasing them from the skin. It has easy applicability and is easy to remove.
SkinQ’s Sun Protect Ultra Light Gel is a dermatologist formulated non-sticky, lightweight gel formula with advanced photoprotection to protect your skin from the harsh UV rays. Formulated with vitamin C, its antioxidant properties help repair the skin damage caused by the sun rays.
Hybrid is a combination of physical and chemical sunscreens. Silicon-based sunscreen offers excellent long-lasting protection for outdoor activities.
Choosing a sunscreen from a variety of selection can be a tedious affair. The features mentioned below can help you to choose your sunscreen that will give you effective results. The notable properties, that you should look for, are:
- Stands for Sun Protection Factor, that measures UVB protection.
- UVB causes our skin to burn and turn red.
- SPF’s have numbers such as SPF15, SPF 30, SPF 50 etc, that account the solar energy required to penetrate your bare skin as compared to when your skin is protected with sunscreen. It does not rely on the time of exposure to the sun but the amount of solar radiation that penetrates through the skin. So, the higher the number, the sunscreen will provide more protection.
- SPF 15 blocks around 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 protects against 96.7%, whereas SPF40 blocks 97.5% while SPF 50 blocks stops a whopping 98% of the radiation, making it the best sunscreen for maximum coverage.
- Along with SPF there are other factors that determine the effectiveness of the product, such as skin type, time of the day, usage of sunscreen, and weather conditions.
- Stands for UVA Protection Grade and measures UVA protection.
- A large part of the solar radiation is made of UVA rays which are responsible for damaging our skin genes. This radiation penetrates deep into the skin and mutates the DNA.
- The ‘+’ sign on the label is the rating system that represents the amount of UVA protection the product offers.
- Higher the number of ‘+’, higher the protection.
A broad spectrum sunscreen shields the skin from both UVA and UVB radiation.
All sunscreens do not provide this level of protection. The best sunscreen for face are those with a broad spectrum as they can be highly effective in combating the damages done by the direct exposure to the sun.
What Roles Does Sunscreen Play?
- A suitable sunscreen cream will prevent photodamage by preventing hyperpigmentation that causes spots and patches. It acts as an additional layer of protective barrier and prevents the penetration of UVA and UVB.
- Sunscreens also help in keeping your skin healthy by locking the moisture in the skin inside and providing it with additional hydration as well.
- Using sunscreen lowers the risk of skin cancer.
- It also prevents premature ageing of the skin. It helps keep your skin healthy by retaining elasticity of your skin.
Vitamin C, present in certain products, is an antioxidant that combats oxidative stress, slows the aging process, and revitalises the skin. Research suggests that the radiation can be absorbed by your skin through the clothes. So it is essential to apply sunscreen with vitamin C to not just your face but also other parts of your body that are potentially at risk to the UV rays. Use a sunscreen for face, while a sunscreen lotion can be used for the body. Reapplication of sunscreen through the day, at intervals of 3 hours, is one of the best ways to ensure that your skin remains well-protected. Even on rainy days with overcast weather, UV rays, although diffused, are still present in the atmosphere which makes use of sunscreen ideal for everyday use. Sunscreen for men and sunscreen for women are not separate products but merely a marketing scheme.
In present times that feature various environmental hazards such as pollution, global warming, and the damaging of ozone layer, the health risks have gone higher. It has become essential to regulate habits that help in preventing the different risks which makes using sunscreen an essential element all year long. Therefore, it is high time you add a suitable sunscreen cream and a sunscreen lotion to your cart.