Cleansing, toning, and moisturizing are three essential and basic steps for skincare. However, there is one critical skincare practice that many people neglect. According to the 2020 RealSelf Sun Safety Report, more than 60% of Americans use anti-aging products as part of their regular skincare routine, while just 11% apply sunscreen every day. Additionally, almost 50% of respondents said they never wear sunscreen. Wearing sunscreen is the most important and at the same time an underrated skincare ritual.
Billions of photon particles each second are being rained down on us by the sun's rays, regardless of whether the sky above is a brilliant blue or a steely grey and even when we are indoors. Additionally, those kaleidoscopic beams contain ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which causes sunburn, premature aging of the skin, and worst of all - skin cancer, which affects more people than all other types of cancer combined.
Picking the right sunscreen and then applying it the correct way to shield your skin from the sun's harmful rays is essential whether you're spending a day at work or on the beach. Then, how do you pick sunscreen? What should you keep an eye out for while purchasing one? Read on to know what to look for.
The active components in sunscreen, both organic and inorganic, combine to shield the skin from the sun's rays. Sunscreens are available in different forms such as sprays, liquids, lotions, powders, and creams.
Sunscreen comes in two primary varieties: chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen. You can choose the sunscreen that is appropriate for your skin type by being aware of the two main types of sunscreens, which are detailed below.
The inorganic physical UV filters in physical sunscreen, often known as "mineral" sunscreen, reflect, scatter, and block the sun's rays before they reach the skin. These physical blockers, often referred to as active minerals, are created to sit on top of the epidermis rather than be absorbed by the skin.
Chemical sunscreens work differently; they contain organic (carbon-based) active components that instantly absorb UV rays when they come into contact with the skin. Chemical sunscreen penetrates the skin, absorbs UV photons, transforms them into heat, and releases the heat from the body. Avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone are among the chemical sunscreens' active components. Chemical UV filters usually only offer protection from one of the two types of UV rays while physical UV filters block both.
It is essential to consider any allergies you could have to chemicals while selecting a sunscreen brand. Furthermore, you must check that the sunscreen's chemicals won't mess with your hormone levels. As per the proposed rule of the FDA in 2019, there is a list of ingredients banned in any sunblock as they can be toxic to the body’s functioning. So, keep a watch for these ingredients when reading product labels. Here is what you need to consider for choosing the right sunscreen.
You must consider the amount of time you will be exposed to the sun, its intensity, and the activities you will be engaging in while in the sun.
Ordinarily, the Ultraviolet (UV) Index, which runs from 1 (low) to 11+, is used to measure the intensity of the sun (extreme). Our unprotected skin can burn in 15 minutes or less when the UV Index is at 8 or above because these UV rays are most intense from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here are the sunscreen options you should select based on how much sun exposure you receive:
Outdoors: Depending on your skin tone, choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher if you will be largely outdoors for an extended amount of time (two hours or more).
Sports/Swimming: It is advisable to select a sunscreen that is sweat- or water-resistant if you want to engage in sports on land or in water. Depending on the tone of your skin, choose an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply every 40 to 60 minutes.
Normal day: Wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 on regular days when you will be in both the sun and the shade.
SPF primarily serves as a measure for the amount of UVA and UVB light that sunscreen can block out. Dermatologists recommend a minimum SPF of 30 for all types of sun exposure. SPF ratings higher than 50 do not mean anything different or unique. Nothing completely blocks UVB rays, and although a sunscreen with an SPF 100 rating may sound amazing, it only blocks 1% more UVB rays than a sunscreen with an SPF 50 rating.
Examine the sunscreen's active components. Look for formulations that include avobenzone, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide. Avoid using sunscreens that contain vitamin A (commonly referred to as retinyl palmitate). A study indicates that vitamin A and its derivatives can irritate skin and make it more sensitive to sunlight, a condition known as photosensitivity.
Pick a sunscreen that offers a broad-spectrum defense. This marking is clearly mentioned on packaging for sunscreens that offer UVA and UVB protection. All sunscreen products shield users from UVB rays, which are primarily responsible for sunburn and skin cancer. However, UVA rays also have a role in causing skin cancer and early aging. A broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect against both.
Water resistance refers to the sunscreen's ability to maintain effectiveness when exposed to sweat or water. The FDA forbids the use of the terms "waterproof" or "sweatproof" on product labels because no sunscreen lasts indefinitely while you're swimming or perspiring. However, they have a certain standard, and you should look for one of two ratings when purchasing:
Water resistant for 40 minutes
Water resistant for 80 minutes
The term "sunscreen formulation" often refers to the form of sunscreen and how it feels and appears on a person's skin. There are many common sunscreen formulations available on the market. Although each of these varieties has advantages of its own when used properly, they can all provide sun protection:
These are ideal for applying sunscreen to areas of the body that are difficult to access. For anyone with a lot of body hair, they are a good alternative. While applying, be careful not to inhale the spray.
These are some of the moisturizing sunscreen formulations that are most commonly used. They come in a variety of options to suit different skin types and at different price points.
These are some of the most lightweight and convenient solutions. Stick sunscreen is excellent for sensitive, tiny areas. Use it on your neck, shoulders, scalp, ears, and nose. They are a practical choice that works particularly well for travel.
For reapplying sunscreen to the face and scalp, powder sunscreens are a portable, practical choice. In the case of mineral sunscreen - active ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are present in their formulations as powders. Because of this, they constitute a sensible reapplication option for people with sensitive skin and makeup enthusiasts.
If there is no mention of water in the ingredient list, the product is probably oil-based. As a result, you'll experience a richer, more nourishing texture rather than a cool, watery one. True gel (or water-based) sunscreen formulations are less common than traditional lotions in the United States, but there is still a market for them in the constantly changing SPF market.
For those with oily or acne-prone skin, as well as those who feel that oil-based sunscreens are clogging their pores and making them perspire, water-based sunscreens are advised.
Hybrids of make-up and sunscreen are an additional popular choice. Tinted moisturizer, foundation, primer, BB (beauty balm), and CC (color correcting) creams are a few examples. This is an alluring choice for beauty fans, but much like powders and sprays, it's crucial to make sure you're using enough of it.
The way you apply sunscreen is far more important than your choice of sunscreen. A sunscreen with an SPF of 50 that is applied carelessly offers far less protection than one with an SPF of 30 (or SPF 15). Follow the guidelines mentioned below for the right and effective application of sunscreen.
Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure.
Apply a very generous amount of sunscreen. Use at least an ounce and be sure to cover every square inch of exposed skin.
Reapply at least once every two hours. This rule also applies to any type of sunscreen.
Any sunscreen can generally be used for up to three years, although the "use by" date on a product is the best guide. Sunscreen should always be stored in a cool and dry place because heat and humidity speed up the process of deterioration.
Sunscreen isn't just a summer necessity, it's a year-round essential. Also, just applying it to the face is not enough. You should also be aware of the often-overlooked UV-exposed areas, such as the scalp, lips, ears, neck, and hands, as they are the commonly affected areas with skin cancer so always apply sunscreen there as well.
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