Do you remember the time when you were heading out to the beach, and your mother reminded you to put on sunscreen? You pouted and groaned, but eventually slathered on some of it.
Well, it turns out that she was right (as mothers always are) all along in doing so. Sunscreen is an important part of our daily upkeep. Besides preventing us from getting tanned, they also prevent premature aging, wrinkles, and age spots.
Hold on a second, you say. I know sunscreen is important, but how do I ensure I get the right sunscreen?
Ultraviolet radiation (UV)
The main reason for applying sunblock is because we have been exposing ourselves to ultraviolet radiation (UV). UV radiation is part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum that reaches the Earth from the Sun.
It is split into two main rays:
- Ultraviolet A (UVA)
- Ultraviolet B (UVB).
There is also Ultraviolet C (UVC), but it is mainly absorbed by the ozone layer.
Sounds like cool, but… what exactly do they do to our skin?
Excessive amounts of UVA and UVB exposure could lead to an increased risk of melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It could also lead to wrinkles and saggy skin, which is not a pretty sight!
It is imperative to note that your sunscreen should be able to protect you from these harmful rays. With skin cancer becoming more and more prevalent, it has become even more important to take care of your skin in the sun. Global warming and the ozone hole in the atmosphere are basically making things worse.
Now that we know the potentially harmful effects of UV on our skin, what do we look out for in a sunscreen, so that we can protect ourselves sufficiently?
Sun protection factor (SPF)
Ever saw that number or SPF value on your sunscreen and wondered what it is?
SPF is a measure of a sunscreen’s protectiveness from UVB rays. This is the kind of radiation that leads to sunburn, skin damage, and could possibly even lead to skin cancer.
In normal cases, where your skin would usually burn after 10 minutes in the sun, applying an SPF 15 sunscreen would allow you to be exposed to the sun comfortably for roughly 150 minutes (15 times longer). This is a rough estimate that depends on skin type, the intensity of sunlight and the amount of sunscreen used.
Does that mean that a higher SPF sunblock would be suitable for me?
I’m afraid not.
High-SPF products may have greater risks to health.
High-SPF products require higher concentrations of sun-filtering chemicals than low SPF sunscreens. These ingredients may lead to health risks when they penetrate the skin, where they have been linked to tissue damage and potential hormone disruption.
High-SPF products are not better at decreasing skin damage and skin cancer risk. Thus, it is not advisable to lather on these products with increased amounts of chemicals in them.
Choosing sunscreens with lower concentrations of active ingredients – SPF 30 instead of SPF 70, for example – is a healthier choice and one which your skin will thank you for in the long term.
Protection grade of UVA rays (PA ++)
While the SPF measures the protection against UVB rays, there is also another measure for UVA rays.
PA is the Japanese measurement of sun protection against UVA rays. This is derived from the Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD) reaction reading at 2-4 hours of sun exposure. PA+ offers the lowest form of protection, while PA+++ offers the highest form of protection against UVA rays.
A sunscreen with a PA++ or PA+++ has been found to be most suitable for maximal protection. Hence, look out for sunscreens that contain the international accreditation of at least PA++, to ensure that you receive optimal protection.
So now that you have understood some common terms prior to selecting a sunblock…
How to choose the right sunblock for your skin?
Identifying your skin type to protect it better
Your skin type decides which sunscreen will work the best for you. When you go out in the sun, use the proper sunblock to protect your skin from tanning and skin diseases.
Every skin type requires different kinds of ingredients in order to protect the skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun. The sunscreen type will also vary with the fact that whether or not the person using it is a child or an adult.
Any type of sunscreen would work for you, just remember to reapply as an when needed, and not take it for granted!
For sensitive skin, sunscreens containing parabens or oxybenzone could cause an outbreak of rashes and skin irritation. You would be better off sticking to sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as these are excellent natural reflectors.
Dry skin sufferers should opt for a moisturizing sunblock. Such Sunblocks often contain ingredients which add hydration and moisture to your skin.
Oily/ acne-prone skin
Acne-prone skin, you say? Stay away from greasy sunscreens with high levels of unnatural chemicals (because natural is the way to go). The chemicals and fragrance in such sunscreens will only lead to painful breakouts for you.
Darker-skinned individuals should use sunscreen daily to protect their skin. The concern for darker-skinned individuals regarding sunscreen use is the potential for chalky or white residue to be left behind on their skin. This can easily be solved by applying a high-quality natural sunscreen.
Pay attention to ingredients in sunscreens
Now we know that the application of sunscreen is an important daily process, as it protects us from excessive UV radiation exposure. However, certain sunscreens might end up blocking your skin from absorbing an important vitamin – Vitamin D.
Importance of vitamin D
Vitamin D is vital to the proper functioning of our immune system and for strong, dense bones. It is a hormone created by our body when our skin comes into contact with sun rays. Our bodies are unable to create Vitamin D by ourselves, and hence, we have to rely on the Sun upon a large percentage of our daily Vitamin D.
How do you get your daily vitamin D then?
Look for sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which are skin-friendly ingredients. BLACK PAINT’s Water UV cream is one good example, which ensures that you get all of the goodness our Sun has to offer while foregoing the negatives!
Choosing natural & organic options
Another consideration for sunscreen is to consider organic and natural options. Organic and natural options are definitely the way to go, as they cater towards the needs of your skin, and are much gentler in comparison to their harshly chemical alternatives.
Look for ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as these are generally natural-based reflective agents effective as sunscreens. BLACK PAINT’s Water UV Cream contains both of these natural-based reflective agents and protects your skin against UV damage. It is a non-greasy formula yet moisturizing at the same time, suitable for all skin types.
Even if you are an outdoors person who loves to soak in the sun, you can now do so safely, and without the irritating, chalky feeling encompassed by many other sunscreens.
A core ingredient of Black Paint’s Water UV cream is almond oil, which is apt for even the most sensitive of skins. It penetrates deeply into the skin, gently exfoliating the dirt that builds up in the skin pores and hair follicles.
Common misconceptions when looking for the right sunscreen
Sometimes there is the misconception that natural and organic options are less effective. This is a myth that is often propagated to lure buyers into buying expensive sunscreens which over-promises on their effectiveness. These often tend to burn a hole in your pocket, while being of very little use.
Natural and organic options are equally as, if not, more so effective than their counterparts, as they work together with your skin, not against it. What natural & organic options do not contain are added chemicals as reflective agents.
It is true that you can achieve a limited amount of protection by using broad-brimmed hats, clothes, scarves and sunglasses. But they may not always give you the proper solution to all your sun protection related problems, as certain parts of your body may remain exposed to the rays of the Sun. Not to mention, your wardrobe would be severely impacted if you were to dress to avoid the Sun’s rays every day! Imagine the limitations that it would impose upon you, as well as unnecessary expenditure on purchasing new pieces of clothing
As such, you would be better off with a trusty sunscreen that is organic, natural, and which nourishes your skin deeply, while protecting adequately against the sun. Imagine wearing anything you like, without the nagging thought of UV rays blemishing your cherished skin.
In a nutshell, using sunscreen is a vital element of the sun protection regime for you. Choosing the right sunblock goes a long way in securing your skin to be youthful, free from age spots and wrinkles. After all, who doesn’t want healthy, youthful-looking skin?