Your guide to sunscreen: All you need to know about SPF
Stay sun-safe this summer season.
Daily sun protection is almost alarmingly overlooked - a real cause for concern, especially in this part of the world. We tend to forget that our skin is our largest organ and needs concerted care. Applying sun protection should be considered as important as brushing your teeth, taking a shower or drinking water. It's great to get a good dose of Vitamin D and to have a healthy sun-kissed glow, and with the right sun protection, it won't become a killer tan.
Here's what you need to know:
Application is not a one-time thing
Even when most people apply SPF, it often happens once in the morning and is forgotten about for the rest of the day. But, in reality, SPF needs to be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure and then reapplied every two hours. If you are in the office all day, it is still important to reapply if you go out for lunch or meetings and when you are travelling to and from work. If you are located by a window, you should reapply your sunscreen every two hours. Even on a cloudy day, 20 per cent of the sun's ray can penetrate your skin.
For frequent fliers, you might be surprised to learn that you should apply sunscreen even when you're on a plane - a 2015 study showed that UVA exposure for a pilot during an hour of flying was equivalent to 20 minutes on a sunbed!
Cosmetic products that contain an SPF are a great start, but nothing really beats the effectiveness of a focused sunscreen product with 30+ protection or higher. The FDA in the United States now requires sun protection products with a rating lower than SPF 15 to carry a warning label!
Here's how you can understand the levels of protection better:
SPF 15 - blocks 93 per cent of UVB rays
SPF 30 - blocks 97 per cent of UVB rays
SPF 50 - block 98 per cent of UVB rays
As for products with higher than SPF 50, it has been said that there is no scientific evidence that they are superior to using SPF 50. They might actually contain more chemicals. Remember, no sun protection can block out 100 per cent of the harmful rays.
For our planet
While it's important to find the right sun protection for our skin type, another thing to keep in mind is how environment-friendly they are. Certain ingredients found in SPF products can be harmful to the environment, especially to our oceans. Research has shown that ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate may be endangering reef life; oxybenzone, in particular, can cause coral bleaching. I recommend you read labels and look for reef safe sunscreen options in the market like those that are mineral-based. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical UV blockers that are safe for the waterways.
Here are five reef-safe and easy-to-use SPF products you need in your life:
1. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 502
. Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 30
3. Sun Bum Lotion SPF 50
4. Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Serum SPF 30
5. Supergoop Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50.
(Angelique Turner is an international makeup artist and beauty educator)