Summer and sunscreen – they just go hand in hand, don’t they? But this summer essential comes with its own set of dos and don’ts which we often tend to overlook. And then we complain that the product is bad. So to do the brands and our skin a favour, we are running through everything you need to know about sunscreens. Well, almost, until a new research sparks a new debate.
To start with, we’ll talk about those digits that always follow ‘SPF’, that controversial figure everyone is always arguing about; 15, 30 or 50? And yes, we’re aware it can go higher or lower (though lower than SPF 15 wouldn’t make it much of a sunscreen anymore). So what does an SPF of 30 mean? Well, to start with, it doesn’t mean you can stay in the sun for 30 minutes without getting burnt. Let’s break it down. Research has shown that a SPF of 15 protects one from 93 per cent of the harmful rays, SPF 30 works against 97 per cent of UVB rays and SPF 50 takes it a notch higher with 98 per cent.
Yes, we hear the question loud and clear. Why pay so much attention because the difference is really marginal, right? The answer is because none of us really apply enough sunscreen. Yes, it’s true. Attaining the number the same as the label means you’ll have to really, really, slather it on, and leave it there – like cakey makeup.
And talking about leaving it on, sunscreen needs to be reapplied once every two hours (four hours if you really want to stretch it). And that is if you’re not swimming or sweating it out, in which case, you need to apply it immediately after.
There are sunscreens which claim to be ‘water-proof’, but we’ll give you a reality check right now. It’s a lie. There is no such thing as ‘water-proof’ sunscreen (apologies there, but we’re laughing at your ignorance right now).
What does exist is ‘water-resistant’ sunscreen which also specifies how long it can protect your skin while in water. Just like ‘waterproof’ watches don’t exist; they explicitly mention how deep you can go while wearing it. You knew that, right?
Sunscreens are getting more advanced by the day. Look out for those that cover a ‘broad spectrum’. Your sunscreen should protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.
A lot of people apply sunscreen just before stepping outdoors (or even worse, when already out in the sun). That’s a bad idea. Sunscreen needs at least 20 minutes to seep into the skin and start taking the form of a protective barrier. Don’t hesitate to apply several coats; be as generous as you can with the application.
And how would we define ‘generous’, you ask? Experts recommend an ounce for every exposed part of your body. Now you know why we keep emphasising the word? It really is a lot of sunscreen, but that’s what it takes to get the results they promise to deliver.
Though we do fret about sunscreen more in summers than winters, applying sunscreen should be a year round habit. As excited as we might get when we open the door and find an overcast sky (because that is rare here), we shouldn’t forget slapping on the sunscreen. Research shows that clouds filter out only 20 per cent of the harmful rays. So though we might not get burnt while outdoors, we are still exposed to skin damage that we might not see immediately.
Wearing full sleeved tees and long bottoms shouldn’t be an excuse to not wear sunscreen as fabrics offer very less sun protection. Apply your sunscreen as generously as you otherwise would (and you know what generous means).
When applying sunscreen, especially on your face, make sure you cover every inch. Sometimes we forget the ear, neck, and hairline which can make the skin look unevenly toned; to put it in simple words — just plain weird.
Don’t’ forget the lips. Pick a lip balm enriched with shea butter or aloe vera and apply it as a base coat before your lipstick or lipstain. Lipsticks/stains also come with SPF protection — the more the cover, the better.
Antara Bose is a model turned fashion and beauty consultant. A popular blogger, anchor, and voice over artist, she maintains a deep connection with the local fashion industry and is passionate about discovering and celebrating aspiring talent as well as promoting animal rights. For fashion updates with a side of humour and sarcasm follow Antara on instagram @antarabose and on Facebook: Antara Bose.