Keep those harmful UV rays at bay

Seasonal care

The season of abundant sun is back and it may necessarily not mean well for your skin. Excessive sun exposure can give you a bad burn, sweaty, itchy and infection-prone skin, wrinkles and even skin cancer in the long run.

Every skin expert advises use of sunscreen creams but the wide variety of such products available in the market can leave one baffled.

The array of sunscreen products in the market today includes pure sunscreens, sunscreens with skin lightening ingredients, Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 to 70, chemical, herbal etc. Also, these are available in different forms such as cream, lotion, gel and spray. Which sunscreen should you go for, for optimum protection against the sun?

Dr Meghna Gupta, dermatologist at Delhi Skin Centre clinic, says, first and foremost one must be aware of what goes into making of a sunscreen, “A sunscreen refers to a chemical formula that effectively reflects harmful sun rays and has a heavy oil base to resist being washed off. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two important ingredients which do not degrade with exposure to sunlight. Ensure that these two  
ingredients are present in your sunscreen.”

“Also, the harmful sunrays don’t just refer to UVA or UVB rays, which cause skin cancer, but the whole ultraviolet spectrum as well as infrared (IRA) rays. Roughly 35 per cent of solar energy is IRA. Make sure that your sunscreen covers this full spectrum,” she adds.

The first sunscreen cream was developed by an Austrian scientist Franz Greiter in 1946. It is said to have had an SPF value of only two which helped white-skinned soldiers serving in tropical countries get a degree of sun protection. But today, there is a whole scale of SPF, from 15 to 70, available in sunscreens. How should you choose the right one for yourself?

Dr Amit Luthra, dermatologist and aesthetic physician, Ishira skin clinic, says, “For people who stay out for nominal time, we advise an SPF 30 sunscreen. If you are planning to be in the sun for long, it is better to use SPF 50. It is a myth that those who stay indoors don’t need a sunscreen. Your PC, laptop screen, tube lights and windows are constantly emitting UV rays. So even housewives must also apply an SPF 30 sunscreen at least once a day.”

For the carrier base of a sunscreen, Dr Amit recommends “gel-based creams for oily skin, creamy textures for dry skin, special sunscreens available these days for
acne-prone skin and water-resistant sunscreens for sweaty skin.”

“Apply it 10-15 minutes before going out and then every two-three hours as the chemicals break down. If you are long exposed to the sun especially at peak hours, reapply every hour or two. That should take good care of
your skin.”

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