We often see our friends who bought and use sunblock regularly for a beach holiday or while going for a sports day, but do you need to use it regularly as in daily? Here is all you need to know about Sun Protection.

What is Sun Protection?

Sunblock & sunscreen is a sun protection for the skin. It protects the skin from the harmful UV rays and many other harmful external factors.

What are these external factors?

The electromagnetic Spectrum of these external factors are of different wavelength hence it can penetrate and affect the skin in different layers. For examples UVB (200-300nm) may penetrate up to epidermis or superficial layers of the skin and High Energy Visible Light (500-770nm) may penetrate deeper to the middle skin layers up to the fat layers.

  1. Most of us know that UV Rays from the Sun exposure are very harmful to the skin. It is divided into Ultra Violet A (UVA) and Ultra Violet B (UVB).
  2. High Energy Visible Light from the indoor lights, our desktop and computers, smart phone and the digital gadgets.
  3. IR-A, IR-B, IR-C is infrared radiation that is thermal radiation (heat) from the environment surrounding.

The below diagram shows the electromagnetic spectrum of the type of radiation we mention above.

How deep can these radiation affects the skin and what will be the consequences?

UVB mostly effects the epidermis or the first layers of the skin hence causing redness, delayed tanning and skin cell damage.

UVA penetrates deep to the dermis or second layers of the skin where all the collagen and hyaluronic acid are located as well as the blood supply to the skin. This UVA will cause free radical damage, photodermatoses, skin cell and DNA damage, immunosuppression as well as immediate pigment darkening or delayed tanning.

High Energy visible light (HEvis) may affect the skin up to the subcutaneous fat layer causing redness, photoaging, indirect skin cell damage, worsening skin pigmentation like melasma, immediate pigment darkening and delayed tanning.

IR- A also affects all layers of the skin and causing depletion of antioxidant activity in the skin leading to the release of chemicals or free radicals in the skin and depletion of collagen, skin cell death and premature skin aging.

All of these may cause fine lines and wrinkling of the skin, dehydrated and dry skin, oily skin, acne inflammation, eczema, sagging skin, dull skin, pigmentation and skin cancers.

How does skin sunblock and sunscreen helps?

Sunblock is mostly the type of sun protection that is using physical filter minerals such as zinc oxide, and the most commonly used is titanium oxide. 

This filters act by reflecting and blocking the UV Rays and other external forces away from the skin to the surrounding.

Sunscreen uses chemical filter to screen & absorb the UV Rays before it reaches the skin and such example is oxybenzone.

Now what is SPF that we always see on the product packaging itself?

SPF stands for sun protective factor which gives you the number of times or duration before you get a sunburn or before the UV Rays affecting the skin. For example, if your skin type will burn in 10 minutes SPF 50+ will give 50 times longer of the duration you will get sunburn. It is an index and multiplier and SPF 30-50 + is just sufficient enough to protect the skin as SPF 50+ protects about almost 98% from UVB. Thus anything more is negligible.

How do you use it?

Most of the time using the sunblock after moisturizer with a thin layer is adequate for facial protection.

Do not also forget the neck area and other exposed areas if you are outdoor for a long duration. If you are applying sunscreen, you should apply the sunscreen 15-30mins before going out to the sun. Sun Protection needs to be re-applied after a  few hours to give optimum protection to the skin.

So which is suitable for you?

There are many types and ranges that are available in the market now however you need to choose the one that gives you the maximum or best coverage from the external factors that we mention previously especially if you are an outgoing and active person. Furthermore, being indoor also leaves you with the risk of getting skin damage from the High Visible Lights.

Having said that using a basic sunblock with protection from only UVA and UVB is better than not using at all and always a good start.

You may choose the ones with non-comedogenic formula or oil-free if you have acne-prone skin or creamy texture if you have dry skin which requires a little hydration.

Some medical-grade sunblock nowadays has the technology to neutralizes the damages from the external factors but also has the element to repair the skin cells or improves the pigmentation and uneven skin tone. Other types also have the second skin technology which can leave the skin feeling protected and moisture but at the same time able to absorb excess oil and sebum. But most medical-grade sunblock gives superior and optimum protection from all external factors.

Most importantly the consistency and regular usage is the key to have better skin health. 🙂

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