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Slap On Some Sunscreen!

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The ONE product you should be using no matter what the season

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Tell me something, boy? Are you happy walking around this world without wearing sunscreen? If the answer is in the affirmative, you’re committing a cardinal (skin-care) sin!  Mumbai-based renowned cosmetic dermatologist and author of Skin Rules, Dr Jaishree Sharad, says, “Sunscreen should be a part of everyone’s skin-care regimen. Men have skin too and without sun protection, even their skin can develop rashes and hyperpigmentation, get sunburned/tanned and accelerate the skin’s ageing process.” 

So at the risk of sounding like your mother, you must wear sunscreen daily. Here’s why….

The sunlight that reaches the earth has ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB). When out and about in the sun, your skin gets exposed to ultraviolet and infrared rays. “The UVA rays are the most damaging, as they penetrate deeper in the skin and cause harm at a cellular level and result in premature ageing,” explains Dr Sharad. “UVA rays also cause tanning, allergies, hyperpigmentation and can lead to dull/blotchy skin and fine lines.” 

Exposure to UVB on the other hand, results in sunburn and skin cancer. “Luckily for us Indians, we have high melanin content in our skin, which offers a sort of natural protection against skin cancer,” adds Dr Sharad. Apart from the sun, infrared rays are emitted from the lights at your home. Even the blue light from our screens—TV, cell phones, laptops and PCs can lead to pigmentation! Maybe, it’s time to chill without Netflix for a bit?

Photoaging is the premature ageing of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet rays. While we can’t fight time and block the chronological ageing process, you could wear a sunblock and prevent adding fuel to the fire! You need to first choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which will shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays with a minimum sun-protection factor (SPF) of 20 or above. “Along with the SPF, you need to also look out for the PA++++ sign on the label. The one with four pluses and above, provide the maximum protection against UVA rays,” she advises. The SPF number tells you how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. So ideally, with SPF 30 it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen!

Contemporary sunscreens aren’t the chalky, sticky goop they once used to be, which would make you sweat and look like you were wearing warpaint on your face! The new formulas are light and quickly absorbed. It’s vital to choose sunscreens based on your skin-type though. “If you have oily skin, stick to a mattifying, water-based sunscreen. Ones with dry skin can use a moisturising or creamy formula. Plus, if you’re spending a day at the beach use one with SPF 50 and above,” recommends Dr Sharad.  

People think that they need to wear sunscreen only when the sun is out or in the summer. UVA rays penetrate glass and gloves, even on a cloudy day! This applies while you’re in the comforts of your house or your fancy sports car! “I think people associate sun damage with heat and light the most. Even when you’re enjoying a skiing holiday, you shouldn’t skip the sunscreen. Snow, in fact, reflects the light and causes even more damage,” explains Dr Sharad.

A sunscreen is composed of physical blockers and chemical ones. “Have you seen cricketers with those white patches on their skin? That’s usually Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, which blocks the UV rays from piercing through your skin. So, these two physical sun-blocking ingredients are key.  Nowadays, the light-weight formulas are quickly absorbed and don’t leave a white layer on your skin,” she says. 


1. Apply 20 minutes before stepping out.
2. You’ll need index-finger-sized amount for your face. Double the amount for face and neck (you must always apply on the neck).
3. A teaspoon each for your arms, and two teaspoons each for your legs if you’re wearing shorts.
4. You need to reapply every two-three hours if you’re spending long hours outdoors. If you’re out for a swim, reapply a waterproof sunscreen every 40 minutes! 

Sunscreen is perhaps the most important tool in your skin-care arsenal. Amp up your defence further by wearing sunglasses, hats and closed shoes.


[Image Credit: Shutterstock]