Put your sunny side up this summer

Put your sunny side up this summer

DAB-ON Using just any sunscreen lotion wont do any good for your skin, writes Usha S

With the onset of summers, using sunscreen lotions, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothes are some common behaviors people adopt to protect their skin from damaging. What one needs to keep in mind is that staying out in sun for long, without wearing a sunscreen or a sunblock lotion, can cause painful sunburns that damage the tissues beneath the surface of your skin.

Using sunblock or sunscreen lotions will help because these lotions contain chemicals that absorb certain harmful rays of the sun, and prevent them from penetrating your skin.

Most of us assume that all we need to do to prevent sunburns and skin cancer from exposure to sun is to use any of the widely available sunscreen lotions that are aplenty in the market. But some researchers have detected an increased risk of melanoma skin cancer among low quality sunscreen users. The cause remains unknown, but the scientists believe that sunscreen users stay out in the sun longer and absorbs more radiation overall. They also suspect that the free radicals which get released as sunscreen chemicals break down in sunlight and do this harm.

Most sunscreens cut some of the Ultra Violet B (UVB) rays from the sun that lead to visible sun burns. But many may not protect the skin against the potentially more dangerous Ultra Violet A (UVA) rays which penetrate deeper into the skin and may facilitate the development of skin cancer at a later stage. This is regardless of how high a Sunburn Protection Factor (SPF) the sunscreen may have. Also, the study group warns that many common sunscreen ingredients generate free radicals that can damage the body’s DNA and skin cells, which accelerates skin ageing and potential skin cancer in the process.

SPF or the Sun Protection Factor is the level of protection from the UVB rays. It is a regulated rating system that calculates how long the exposed skin can bear the sun rays, without being harmed, after application of the lotion. But, they may not be suitable for UVA rays. Every sunscreen system should have a protective system which can protect the skin from the more harmful UVA rays.

Protection from UVA rays can be made by using avobenzone and zinc oxide in sunscreen. Mineral ingredients like Titanium Di oxide or Zinc oxide will bar the UVA from reaching out to skin. They also give good protection against sunburns by blocking both UVB, which causes sunburn, and UVA, which can cause skin ageing and skin cancer.

People tend to assume that they must block out sunrays completely. On the contrary, sunlight is very vital for a healthy skin. About 10 minutes of basking in mild sunlight early in the morning or during sunset does a lot of good to your skin. Sunlight helps produce Vitamin D within your body and in turn facilitates calcium absorption.

Health problems are compounded when people do not receive enough sun light. The ‘melanin’ pigment in our skin helps us to maintain the balance between too much of sunlight and not enough of the same. The pigment does this by allowing UV radiation to produce Vitamin D in our body, which protects the skin from intense sunlight. But too much of sunlight can cause the destruction of folate which is also very critical to cell division.

While using sunscreen lotions, it is better to go for natural ingredients in their making. Aloe Vera is one such herbal material, which not only moisturises, but also acts as a wall and protects our skin from extreme effects of sun.

There are several kinds of sunscreens in the market today. Most of them come with moisturizers, while some have oil control mechanisms in them. The latest ones even have a skin tone lightening effect. Some of them are to be used only on specific parts of the body, while some of them can be used evenly all over the body.

Also keep in mind that the brand of sunscreen you choose has to be suitable for your skin type. But whatever brand you choose, it must compulsorily have SPF 30 or higher. Else, the whole point of sunscreen will be lost.

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