Do you find buying a sunscreen overwhelming? Every time I walk down the cosmetic aisle I’m bombarded with innumerable sunscreen options; SPF this, UVA that, UVB this, water proof, water resistant, cream, lotion, spray on, SPF powders and air brush sunscreens. In my confusion, I end up with something that I don’t really need or something that doesn’t work.
I had my wakeup call when recent statistics by the American Association of Dermatology revealed that one out of five Americans is detected with skin cancer. Studies show that most of these cases of skin cancer are sun related!
Before you make your ‘shade special’ purchases ask yourself:
SPF factor– SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. This helps in guarding the skin against harmful UVA and UVB rays that cause sun burns, tans and skin cancer. Normally an SPF 15 is fine for everyday use. But if you spend more time outdoors buy a sunscreen with SPF 30. Children older than 6 months should use an SFPF 50.
UVA & UVB protection: Premature ageing, skin darkening, pigmentation and skin cancer are some of the damages caused by prolonged sun exposure. Ensure that your sunscreen has ingredients that offer “broad spectrum” or “full spectrum” protection. Some of the ingredients that you should be looking out for are Zinc oxide, Titanium dioxide, Oxybenzone, Avobenzone and Sulisobenzone
PABA Free: Always make sure that your sunscreen is PABA free. PABA’s can cause allergic reactions to the skin.
Match your sunscreen to your skin type: This will make the sunscreen more effective and will keep your skin feeling happy. Look for sunscreens that are fragrance free, and are alcohol free for best results.
Water resistant v/s Waterproof: Sunscreens are a must when indulging in water activities such as swimming. While a water resistant sunscreen offers protection for 40 minutes a water proof sunscreen works well for almost 80 minutes. Spray on sunscreens wash off easily in comparison to lotions or gels.
Expiry: Sunscreens should be on your shelf for no longer than a year. Throw out your old bottle of sunscreen each year as sun protection ceases to be effective after 12 months.
Quantity: Don’t ever skimp on your sunscreen. A shot glass full of sunscreen (approx. 1 ounce) is what an average sized adult should use for a single application. Apply generously to all exposed body parts at least 20 to 30 minutes before you step out.
Reapply: Your sunscreen needs to be re applied ever ninety minutes to two hours when outdoors. The altitude and latitude also determine how often you should reapply your sunscreen. The higher up you go and get closer to the equator, the more often you should reapply.
Be it rain or shine –let your sunscreen be your BFF!