All You Need To Know About SPF And Sunscreens

Since the last two decades, sunscreens have seen a lot of popularity in the markets around the world. This is mainly because of the concerns our environmentalists and scientists have raised regarding global warming and UV rays. It is often believed that sunscreens protect us from the harmful rays of the sun and keep tan lines away. However, we still do not have a proper idea regarding sunscreens and SPF. Most of us only know that higher the SPF, more protected we are on a particular beach day.

However, it is about time we actually get our facts about sunscreens and SPF right.

The Difference Between UVA And UVB

SPF indicates protection only against UVB rays.

The sun emits different types of radiations and two of them are UVA and UVB. UVB are the sun rays that burn the superficial layers of the skin and cause sunburn. These rays are also responsible for skin cancer. UVA rays are those that penetrate deep into the skin,

causes the ageing of the skin and DNA damage that leads to skin cancer. UVA has been found to be more harmful than UVB.

It has been found that there is an absence of UVA filters in sunscreens, and this leads to a condition called melanoma that happens with sunscreen users more than non-users. Melanoma is the tumor of melanin-forming cells and leads to skin cancer.

A ‘Broad Spectrum’ Sunscreen

UVA star rating must be within 4-5 for high UVA protection.

SPF (Sun Protecting Factor) is a measure of how well the sunscreen protects your skin from UVB rays. SPF does not give any indication of UVA protection. The UVA protection provided by a sunscreen is determined by the UVA star system, which is generally mentioned on the back of the bottle. These stars range from 0-5 and provides information on the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by the sunscreen. The British Association of Dermatologists have stated that a sunscreen with SPF 30 and UVA rating

of 4 to 5 stars is considered to be a good standard of sun protection.

High SPF Might Not Mean High Protection

 SPF 30 is a standard number that blocks 97% UVB rays.

It has been found that sunscreens with high SPFs such as SPF 75 or SPF 100 do not offer any significantly greater protection than SPF 30. These sunscreens with high SPFs only mislead people into thinking that they have more protection. It has also been found that SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, which is not a very significant increase.

Truth Behind Photostability

 Sunscreens need to reapplied even if it says water-resistant.

Photostability means a product’s ability to not break down in the sun. This does not mean that you don’t need to reapply that sunscreen. Even if the product is water-resistant, the product

stays intact under water for only as long as 40 minutes. Also, if you apply sunscreen and then sweat, the sunscreen gets removed. So, you always need to reapply  your sunscreen every two hours, and in very hot and humid climate, you need to reapply in every 30 minutes.

Spray Sunscreens Could Be Harmful

 Spray sunscreens contain a lot of alcohol which is not good for the skin

It has been found that spray sunscreens are aerosol products that contain a lot of alcohol. These products break down photostability and dries your skin out although that is the time you need the most hydration. It is not possible to use a sunscreen without alcohol at all; however, check for products that feature alcohol in the list later.

Sunscreen That Doesn’t Give Spots

Those sunscreens that are not greasy and 'oil-free' does not leave spots.

It is not

very hard to find a sunscreen that does not give you spots. It has been proved that the formulation of the cream around the filter is what causes spots when applied. To avoid getting those annoying spots, a sunscreen that is not greasy in texture and that does not sink into the skin should be used. The sunscreens that have the label stating ‘oil-free’ on the bottle is safer to use, as it won’t be very greasy.

Next time you buy sunscreen, do not forget to check the UVA star rating and the list of ingredients in it. Also, a non-greasy sunscreen will always serve you better.