A study conducted by American Cancer Society has shown that one out of every five Americans will get skin cancer at some point in their lives, and the disease will kill more than 12,000 people in the US in 2013.
One will be surprised to know that 90 percent of the time, the risk of developing skin cancer is directly related to the amount and intensity of ultraviolet (UV) light exposure one receives from the sun.
So, it is only wise to minimize one’s exposure to the sun and fortunately, it is possible. With the regulated use of the right sunscreen product, one can surely lower the risk of getting skin cancer.
Finding the right sunscreen and knowing the right way to apply it is the tricky thing. Basically, the whole concept of sunscreen is bit tricky and wrong movements can make it backfire right at you.
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1. Difference Between UVA And UVB
UV or UltraViolet is a form of radiation measured on a scientific scale called the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum.
They are three types of rays emitted by sun UVA, B, and C. Though C is the most harmful one but we only have to worry about A and B as our atmosphere blocks C, thankfully (Keep hurting the ozone and it will bite you back by releasing UVC to you).
UVB causes sunburns, tanning and also possess the most direct effect on causing skin cancer. UVA is less dangerous but penetrates deep leading to aging. They too can add in cancer risk. (B for burn and A for aging).
2. SPF, PA, and Ratings
SPF ratings are for UVB rays. They indicate protection towards this kind of damage. And UVA protection is indicated by the PA ratings. The plus (+) indicates its strength. The more there is the stronger it is.
SPF or Sun Protection Factor is a measure of how much UVB (not UVA) penetrates the skin. They are rated on a scale from 2 to 50+ reaching up to 100. SPF 15 means only 1/15, or 7 percent, of UVB, reaches the skin and it blocks the other 93 percent.
It also tells you how long it will take your skin to turn red. Like if you normally take 30 minutes to get burned under the sun that using a sunblock with SPF 30 will keep you protected 30 times longer resulting your skin to turn red after 30X30=900 minutes which is a whopping 15 hours!!!
3. Types of Sunscreen
There are few types of sunscreens found in the market. Mainly they are normal sunblock with few added facilities. Like the bug repellent and anti-aging ones.
For bug repellent ones, they contain DEET which lessens the effectiveness of SPF. So, you need to reapply often. So, scientist recommends sticking with two different products.
Anti-aging is the most famous one. People live in the city should always opt for this type. They beat free radicals and keep aging away.
Water resistant sunscreens (available on Amazon) are must when you have pool or sea in your routine. They tend to keep you protected even underwater (yes sun rays can hurt even under the water). Reapply once you get out and check how long your sunscreen claims to be water resistant. Towel drying will remove the block as well.
There are sunblocks, especially for the face. They are moisturizing but lightweight, usually non-greasy. Many of them include anti-aging as well.
And there are these infamous once-a-day ones who in reality are actually traitors. Steer clear away from them and stick to the upper normal ones.
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4. The Basic Knowledge Of Sunscreen
The facts will help you in understanding how the sunscreen works and how it varies from person to person.
Ingredients Used In It
Sunscreens or sunblocks are life savers but only when done properly. A list of 39 chemical and physical ingredients for producing sunscreen is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of US.
PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) and cinnamates two of them for example, absorb UV rays and convert the sun’s radiation into heat energy. As for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, another two on the list deflect and scatter the rays before they penetrate your skin. Former ones are chemicals and later ones are physical and they both know how to work against the solar radiation.
Now you have to be careful about the ingredients used in the making as everyone has different needs and reaction to the ingredients. Toddlers and kids have a different list of ingredients that can be used. Skin condition like rosacea and acne requires a different set.
Time and Exposure
Also depending on how much time you spend under the amount of exposure, sun blocks vary. One sunscreen should have broad-spectrum protection, thus it can protect the skin against both of the ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) ranges of the light spectrum.
If you are going for a quick outing like about 15 minutes, put on a sunblock with SPF 15. But, if it is more than that and intense like sports or driving for a long time put on ones with SPF 30 or higher also has a broad spectrum and water resistant.
SPF 15 filters 93 percent of UV radiation, SPF 30 filters out up to 97 percent and SPF 50 filters out up to 98 percent.
The Children Sun Block
For your little ones (available on Amazon), you cannot use the sunscreens that have chemicals like PABA. Babies have sensitive skin, natural ones like zinc oxide are OK for the same goes for elders with sensitive skin.
For kids, there are nice pretty colorful spray bottles available in the market. But, do not spray them right in the face. Instead get the mist on hands and their spread on the face.
Allergy, Acne, and Rosacea Prone Skin’s Sunscreen
Patience with the above-mentioned conditions has to be more careful with what they put on their skin. For the products with preservatives, fragrances, and harmful chemicals are a big NO. PABA or oxybenzone, in this case, is prohibited as well. Chemicals are more prone to cause a reaction.
On the other hand, physical ones and those made with salicylates and ecamsule are good for them. Allergy and rosacea patients should avoid alcohol and acne patients can find themselves gel sunblock which actually contains alcohol drying up the acne. It will at least not aggravate the acne. Greasy ones which are the creams in market terms should be stir clear off.
But, if someone is on topical acne medications that are already drying gels might be too much for them and irritating at the same time. A light lotion or cream base will be fine for them. Keep in mind that some medication of acne can make skin more sensitive to the sun, so better put on sunblock right.
Melasma, History of Skin Cancer
Melasma is s skin condition with blotchy brown discoloration. Those with melasma and skin cancer history better be very careful and use SPF 30 for daily protection. It is to be extra careful on their part.
Dry Skin Sunscreen
Sunscreen for dry skin can double up as a moisturizer. Two in one benefit. Sunblocks can contain lanolin, oils, and silicones such as dimethicone making it perfect for dry skin. Creams, lotions, or ointments are the call here.
Fair Skin Sunscreen
Fair skins are more prone to cancer. That is because melanin work as a guard against the sun and fair skin people or the whites do not have enough of that. They get sunburns too much as well and frequent sunburns during childhood increase the risk of developing melanoma. The primary risk of both melanoma and non-melanoma cancer is both due to UV light.
Caucasians or the whites are at far more risk of developing cancers. It varies from person to person who has blond or red hair, blue or green eyes. Skins that burns or freckles easily are at high risk.
Darker Skin Sunscreen
Darker skin people are in luck as they have their melanin as a 24-hour bodyguard for them. Those who do not burn or tan easily, so really do not need a sunscreen that much. Also, using physical sunscreen can leave traces of chalky white substances on the skin.
But, thanks to all hard work from engineers new sunblocks are more micronized that tend to blend in and get disappear giving you protection. A chemical sunscreen is an option too as they blend in well.
Dark skin people should go for SPF 15 with a broad spectrum.
Old Age Sun Protection
Many elders may think that they have already been exposed to more than enough UV in their life, hence they are in no need of protection but they are wrong.
Sun protection can still help them as at any age of life, unprotected sun exposure increases the risk of developing new skin cancers and also the chances of overlap.
Older people are better with a spray bottle of sunscreen (available on Amazon) as they can apply it by themselves without much hassle.
5. Notes To Keep In Mind While Buying A Sunscreen And Applying It
Give attention to these points and keep them in your mind.
- Beware of the manufactured and expiring date
- Keep the brand in mind
- Water and sweat resistance depending on the occasion of use
- Photostable ingredients. Certain ingredients breakdown upon exposure to UV radiation which is not really welcomed. Try to find those who do not break and give better protection.
- You should not be stingy with sunscreen and apply it inadequate amount to reach the safety level.
- That is why people with fair skin condition should use sunblock of higher SPF so that they are protected.
- Also, sensitive skin, a history of skin cancer, or subject photo-sensitizing medications should wear higher SF inadequate amount
- After getting out if water reapply immediately
- Do not keep sunscreen when inside a building
6. How To Apply Sunscreen
The right way to apply sun protectant on your skin.
- 1 teaspoon of sun protectant for each body part
- Apply it 30 minutes before going out if possible but surely top up before stepping under the sun
- Spray should be applied until an even sheen appears on the skin
- Hold the spray bottle upright and move it back and forth across the exposed skin
- Rub it well on the skin gently for it to absorb in well
- Do not miss a spot even lips need protection and skin around eyes are in bigger need
- Reapply after two hours
- Can be wear under makeup
- Younger than 6 months are off limits. The main reason is that kids so little are not allowed until the direct sunlight. If they are fully clothed and wearing a hat then that is more than sufficient
7. How Much Need To Be Applied
That is a big question. As said before 1 teaspoon for each part is recommended. The study has shown that people apply 1/3 of what they are asked to apply. So, to cover up the loss most of the time specialist advice to use a higher SPF so that they can be well-protected. SPF 30 or above are recommended.
Make sure you are not missing any spots. Sprays, for this reason, can be very expensive and it is better for creams, gels or lotions to be used.
8. How To Be Fully Protected From The Sun
Just applying sunblock is not gonna keep you fully saved.
- Avoid sunlight from 11 am to 2 pm, till 4 pm sun rays are the strongest and early evening as much as possible
- Always try to move under the shade
- Avoid UV tanning
- Wear protective clothes covering skin as much as possible
- Wear a broad-brimmed hat
- Sunglasses with UV protection will also add to your fashion
- Photostable or not reapply sunblock after two hours
- The cotton cloth has SPF 4
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified tanning beds as a Class 1 carcinogen, the highest cancer risk category
- Car window also should have UB blocking features
Stay Sun Protected
Hope, now you have all your answers regarding sunscreen. But, reading this article will not just help. You have to be diligent and apply sun protectant daily.