SUNSCREEN – SAVING GRACE FOR YOUR SKIN

A sunscreen lotion when applied to the skin reflects or absorbs harmful UV rays of the sun thereby minimizing sun damage.

Apply the lotion at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. For ensuring constant protection it should be reapplied after any swimming, heavy perspiration or sun – exposure for long duration.

Always apply sunscreen while holidaying by the sea or snow, as these are reflective surfaces and sun-damage is more.

What is SPF ?

The SPF is Sun Protection Factor and is denoted by a number, which should be mentioned on the label of the sunscreen product. It is related to individual sun-sensitivity and duration of exposure, and is also an indication of the amount of protection that we can expect from the sunscreen.

If you normally burn in 10 minutes without a sunscreen, then when you use a lotion with SPF 15 that means you will be protected from sunburn for 150 minutes. As such we should not expect any sunscreen to give us protection for more than 3 to 4 hours max. This is the only reason why the lotion has to be re-applied during the day.

Normally a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 to 25 is more than adequate for the average Indian skin. Skins that more sensitive to the sun and prone to dark patches (hyperpigmentation) or severe burns, need a sunscreen with high SPF of 30 and above.

It must be remembered that the higher the SPF the oilier is the product, so in cases of oily skin they can worsen the skin by forming acne eruptions.

Do combine sunscreens with other forms of physical blocks like umbrella, hat, clothing etc.

A hat gives ideal protection from the burning effects of the sun. It is effective in cutting out the sun’s rays from reaching the scalp and reduces the damage to a large extent.

Mesh hats are translucent and allow sun’s rays to penetrate through it thereby rendering it useless in its duties. Hence, hats of breathable fabric like cotton should be used.

Interestingly, a “beauty care umbrella” has been devised by an innovator in Assam and an Indian patent has been awarded to the innovation. The umbrella is produced from ‘muga’ silk – a kind of raw silk woven in Assam. The material has been treated and processed and is said to provide protection from UV radiations up to 80 % (laboratory approved) as against 40% offered by conventional umbrellas.

Extra attention should be given to children pertaining to their skin, as childhood is the stage when everyone stays outdoor maximum, involved in games and other recreational activities. It has now been estimated by experts that a significant amount of our lifetime cumulative sunlight exposure takes place before we turn 18 years of age.

Children ignore the harmful effects of the sun by being engrossed in their activities. Hence, additional precautions should be taken for children too. The tiny infants should not be exposed to long periods of sunlight. Specialized sunscreens are available for children, keeping their tender skins in view.

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