The importance of using sunscreen to protect our skin from UV rays is known to most of us. But a majority of human beings either do not care much or are ignorant about how a sunscreen works.
They either follow a completely wrong method of usage or do not use them at all. Have we ever wondered whether the sunscreens that we are using are effective? Are we applying them correctly? Do we have the right SPF? How often should we apply sunscreen?
These are questions that must have never crossed our minds. Going by the mounting rates in skin cancer occurrences, it’s time we educate ourselves with certain important sunscreen facts that would prevent us from committing grave mistakes in choice as well as usage.
It is important to follow the correct guidelines while you use a sunscreen. Equally important is the choice of sunscreen that you use for protection from UV rays. Below are certain useful tips before you proceed to buy sunscreen. These tips will ensure that you buy the right product that suits your skin type and apply sunscreen correctly for complete protection.
Apply sunscreen several times for daylong protection
Many of us can’t deny that we believe that sunscreen has to be applied just once a day. The truth however is very different from this belief. Sunscreen has to be applied every two or three hours for complete protection from sun’s rays. This is very essential if you are in the sun all the time. A single application of sunscreen is effective only for 2-3 hours. If you are wary of constant application, it is advisable to use a hat or an umbrella for proper protection from UV rays.
Sunscreen has to be used half an hour before you are in the sun
Probably the greatest mistake that we make while using a sunscreen is to dab it on just before we head out into the sun. Sunscreen requires thirty minutes to absorb into our skin and start working. To know that all these days we have been exposed to the sun even after using sunscreen is shocking for all of us. It is only the ones who take ages to get ready that are saved from UV rays even if they remain ignorant about this fact. Ensure that you dab on your sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you are in the sun.
Sunscreen has to be worn on snowy days too
We have always believed that we don’t need sunscreen lotions on cloudy or snowy days. In fact, we need more protection on snowy and cloudy days. Facts show that eighty percent of the UV rays from the sun can infiltrate through the clouds to reach us and harm our delicate skin. Snow is capable of reflecting eighty percent of the UV rays that are give out from the sun. There is more to this story than meets the eye. Sand is capable of reflecting a quarter of the rays from the sun. Putting all these facts together, we can estimate how much harm our skin has already been exposed to.
We need only an SPF 30 for perfect protection
Associating higher numbers with greater protection come naturally for us. Our perceptions have to be changed here. An SPF of 30 is enough to protect us from 97% of the UV rays emitted by the sun. SPF 50 gives 98% protection which is a marginal improvement. In fact, any sunscreen lotion with more than Sun Protection Factor of 30 would not give any significant increase in protection. So you can stick to Sun Protection Factor 30 or 50 and not run after higher numbers.
Use liberal amounts of sunscreen for complete protection
We have never given it a thought as to the quantity of sunscreen required for proper protection from UV rays. The norm is to use as little as possible to avoid excessive moisturisation and stickiness on our faces when we sweat. The fact is that we may not be using enough sunscreen for protection. An ounce of lotion is required for our face and neck, and generous amounts must be applied on all exposed parts of our body for protection.
Sunscreen has to be applied on dark and light skin
Darker skinned people have greater protection from the sun due to the greater amounts of melanin present in their body. But having dark skin definitely does not mean that there is no need for . Both fair and dark skinned people are prone to skin cancer. Moreover, sun’s rays do not just damage our skin by exposure to UV rays, they also lead to premature ageing, sun spots and darkening of skin. Melanin cannot protect you against all these problems. So whichever skin type we have, we must use sunscreen lotions whenever we step out into the sun, irrespective of whether we are dark or fair skinned.
Sunscreen has to be applied even if you are in the sun for two minutes
We believe that a few of minutes in the sun do not create any damage to our skin. The fact is that even a minute’s exposure can cause serious damage. If we are exposed to the sun a few minutes every day, the damage could be irrevocable. So whether it’s two or three minutes, we have to make sure that sunscreen lotion is applied correctly.
Sunscreen should protect us from UVA and UVB
Not many of us knew that Ultra Violet A and B existed. We believed that sunscreen protects us against UV rays without understanding the importance of UVA and UVB protection. SPF gives protection only against Ultra Violet B rays. So what about UVA? We need PA+++ ranking for protection against UVA. Products with PA+++ certification will have titanium dioxide, mexoryl, avobenzone, zinc oxide etc. as their ingredients. If you find these in your sunscreen lotion, rest assured that you are protected against Ultra Violet A and B.
Sunscreen lotions lose their efficacy with time
Are you still smearing on your three year old sunscreen lotion? You are better off without them. They offer no protection at all. Sunscreen lotions lose part of their effectiveness after one year, more of it in the second year and almost all of its effectiveness in the third year. So it is essential to remove all your old lotions and get new ones every year if you need complete protection.
Sunscreens don’t protect against skin cancer
Sunscreens can definitely prevent the formation of solar keratoses on your skin. But they surely do not offer lifelong protection against skin cancer. Though solar keratoses can cause skin cancer, using sunscreen will not prevent cancer in any way. For lifelong protection, use good umbrellas with UV coating or hats that have wide brims.