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Sunscreen 101

July 18, 2020

If you revisit any of the womenissues articles about skin care you will realize in all of them there is a mention of how important the use of sunscreen is. There is lack of understanding of how to use it, when and why. Read thoroughly to get a better understanding of why we need it.

WHAT IS SPF IN SUNSCREEN?
SPF is a sun protection factor in sunscreen and this has to protect us from both the UVA & UVB ultraviolet rays from the sun. It’s the measure of how the sunscreen will provide protection against the UV rays. The higher the number, the less the UV penetrates the skin. It does not block the sunrays but it only screens them by a certain percentage based on the SPF number

WHY DO WE NEED TO USE SUNSCREEN?
The sun is very damaging to the skin and we need to protect it from the harmful sun rays. We run a risk of developing skin cancer if we are not adequately protected from the harshness of the sun.

UVA sun rays penetrates deeper into the skin layers and it causes wrinkles, premature aging and spots. Turning red on the skin and sunburn are the results of UVB sun rays. For these reasons stated we need to use our sunscreen daily.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING SUNSCREEN?
The above on “why do we need to use sunscreen” explains that we need to use it to protect our skin from both UVA & UVB ultraviolet rays. Most sunscreens state only the UVB protection and that does not provide all the protection needed. With the UVB protection only; it means the UVA rays will still penetrate deeper into your skin and you will not be protected from wrinkles, premature aging and skin cancer. Always look for a sunscreen that states “Broad spectrum from both UVA & UVB rays as it offers the best overall protection.

CHECK THE INGREDIENTS OF THE SUNSCREEN
I have come to learn about the importance of zinc oxide and titanium oxide in a sunscreen. These two are the filters that reflect and scatter the UV radiation away from the body. They are also great for people with sensitive skin and for kids. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are less irritating on the skin and that might work for people with allergies, irritation or some skin conditions. The next important issue after ingredients is to buy according to your skin type. For e.g. buy non-greasy for oily skin type and use the ones specified for kids for the kids, there is a range available for all skin types. There are waterproof sunscreens that need not much reapplying after sweating or swimming.

WHEN TO APPLY SUNSCREEN
Absolutely not during bedtime, it is called sunscreen for a reason. Apply it after using the daily skin care and that is after your face wash, serum and moisturizers. If you use make up, apply it under the make-up that is after using the moisturizer apply sunscreen first before using the make-up. Please do apply it during the cloudy or overcast days because some dangerous UV rays can still make it through the clouds. Even during winter the protection must continue. Allow it to absorb properly to the skin by applying it at least 20min before you expose yourself to the sun.
Use at least a teaspoon for the face for proper recommended protection. Using too little will not give you the protection you need and you just might think your sunscreen doesn’t do as it promises. Sunscreen is also for office or indoor workers, the sun coming through the window is just as harmful. As an indoor person you might not need a higher SPF but you still need it.

WHY DO WE NEED TO REAPPLY AND HOW OFTEN?
The sunscreen can dissolve after a workout/sweating or swimming and will no longer provide the protection. SPF will no longer provide the protection after certain hours for e.g. if you use SPF 30 and you know you normally easily burn 10min in the sun then this is how you calculate 30×10=300. The 300 means you are protected for only 300minutes so you need to reapply every 300min. read what the instructions are on the sunscreen when you purchase. Calculate according to the SPF on your sunscreen and your skin reaction. Some sunscreens guarantees that you do not need to reapply even after swimming but your skin will be the best judge if does provide that.

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER
*After choosing the sunscreen please ensure you use the right amount for the promised protection
*Apply at least 20min before sun exposure and reapply accordingly
*Get sunscreen suitable for your whole body as well and for your face choose a different one according to your skin type.
*When you are too exposed to the sun wear a hat and UV blocking sunglasses, the sun damages our eyes as well
*Use lip balm with SPF
*If your moisturizer has SPF you still need your sunscreen as it might not be enough
*It is better to overdo it than use less that might give you only about 10% benefit.
*Consult your dermatologist if you have skin conditions or allergies.

Let us take care of our skin and protect it from the sun damage. To my fellow African sisters please note that black skin does crack and you might not experience the effects now but you will later face the consequences.

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