In this age and time, the concept of harmful UV rays and sun damage is no longer breaking news. We all know what the effects of protection-less exposure to the sun can do to our skin. Ironically, sunscreens and sunblocks, our major skin-protecting agents, are the most underrated and most often forgotten steps of our routines.
Before we head on to why a sunscreen is one of the most important products in our possession, let’s talk a little about what it is and how it works, shall we?
To start off, let’s establish that there are, in fact, two types of sun-protecting agents:
Now, sun protection comes in two forms:
We’ll start with sun blocks.
What these are:
As the same suggests, sunblocks literally block the UV rays (majorly the UVB kind, the ones that cause skin burning ) by forming a shield on top of the skin. It scatters and reflects away the rays that hit your skin. So this clearly means that they are physical sun protection products, right?
How to use them:
As their mechanism of action suggests, they are supposed to sit on top of the skin, which means that there is no use of waiting around for them to absorb into the skin, because they’re not supposed to. This also means that sunblocks do not need to be reapplied again and again, because they typically stay on the top layer of your skin for a prolonged period of time.
Physical sun protection products tend to leave a white cast when applied. This characteristic feature comes from their main ingredients, namely zinc oxide and titanium oxide.
Hence, sunblocks can be expected to leave you looking like you obviously have something on your face, which is why I suggest you use them under your makeup, because then you wouldn’t have to worry about the white cast they leave.
Moving on to sunscreens:
What these are:
Sunscreens can be both, the physical or the chemical kind.
The chemical kinds, as opposed to sunblocks, absorb the UV rays (specifically the UVA kind, the ones that cause skin ageing).
How to use them:
As chemical sunscreens typically absorb into the skin, you need to wait for about 20-30 minutes to let the product sink in before you head out.
As opposed to sunblocks, sunscreens tend to separate after prolonged exposure to the sun, so they need to be reapplied every 2-3 hours.
Fortunately, chemical sunscreens have main active ingredients that are organic compounds so they don’t leave a white cast when applied directly onto the skin.
These sun protection products can be worn under and without makeup as they look completely natural.
Now that we have established the different forms and kinds of sun protection products, let’s talk about what makes them more powerful and preferable- their SPF.
SPF stands for Skin Protection Factor and depicts the approximate amount of UV rays that the product can save you from. If you use a product that has an SPF 15, and it takes about 10 minute for your skin to start burning in the sun, you can spend about 1500 minutes out in the sun, protected. That’s 15 times your usual amount of time in the sun ,without being burnt. Get it?
This does not mean that if you put on a sunscreen with SPF 15 and a foundation with SPF 15, you have a net SPF 30 on. That’s not how SPF math works!
This also does not mean that SPF 100 will be the best of all because if you take 30 minutes to get sun burnt, you can be out for 50 hours if you have that particular sun protection on.
Higher SPF sometimes tends to exaggerate the protection it is supposed to deliver. Higher SPF also tends to make consumers feel that they have a cloak of invisibility on that will hide them from sun rays.
This makes them prolong their exposure to the sun and eventually defeat the purpose of the product.
Hence making SPF 100 somehow equal to what SPF 30 offered.
If you don’t care about all these boring deets, just remember this:
Anything between SPF 30 and SPF 50 is good enough for daily use.
So, we have understood why sun protection is important, how you can protect yourself, what options you have available, how they work, how to use them and how to choose a suitable SPF. What’s your excuse now? Go out, grab a sun protecting product you like and never forget it again. But make sure you go out at night, hehe!