Understanding Your Sunscreen

It’s that time of the year once again when you either let your skin get burnt to a crisp or actually head out and buy a new bottle of (gasp!) sunscreen. UV protection is the number-one summer health and beauty helper, yet 75% people don’t bother to use any.

It’s a well proven fact that 80% signs of ageing (like fine lines, hyper-pigmentation, wrinkles and sagging) are accelerated by the sun’s rays, which penetrate deep into the skin to attack collagen – the spongy protein that keeps skin supple and firm.

New studies also indicate that regular SPF use allows skin cells to focus on tasks that actually improve skin – such as shedding dead cells and building collagen – rather than on fighting environmental effects. So you not only prevent further damage, but actually get repairing benefits as well.

And no, the bottle from last year won’t do, because sunscreens usually degenerate and lose their effectivity within six months of opening the bottle. Still confused about what all those numbers and rating signify? Here is a quick brush-up 101 to help you choose:

  • SPF: Higher SPFs don’t give better protection; they just allow you to be out in the sun longer without burning. SPF 15 works for approximately two hours, so it’s fine for everyday use, but on outdoor days go for SPF 30 or above to cut down on reapplications.
  • UVA/UVB: Earlier, SPF regulations only measured the product’s efficacy against UVB rays; however, studies have proved that UVA rays are equally damaging to the skin. So, the revised labeling system for sunscreens includes a four-star rating system for sunscreen protection against UVA light – one star represents low UVA protection, while four stars represent the highest protection available in an over-the-counter product.