The Most Important Skincare Product – Sunscreen - Skinoreal

The Most Important Skincare Product – Sunscreen

Today I am going to talk about the biggest ageing gracefully/skin protecting trick, the one by which all the dermatologists, the K beauty, the A beauty (ayurvedic Indian skincare), and other beauties in the world swear by- SUNSCREEN.

C’mon now don’t give me that disappointed #iknewthis look, because I am not going to tell you to wear sunscreen. I am not going to talk about its importance.

Instead, I am going to go back to basics to decode everything that you need to know about sunscreen and leave the decision of #wearing or #notwearing to you.

Let’s begin-

#Lesson1 –  What the heck is UVA/UVB rays? 

The mighty sun emits two types of ultraviolet (UV) rays- ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) and both are damaging for our skin but then how they go about doing that differs.

UVA is a long wavelength light that nearly accounts for 95 per cent of the UV light that reaches our skin, making it a great threat for our skin. Think of it like this, if at any point you see daylight (not the sun, just daylight and you see daylight even when its cloudy or snowing), UVA rays is present. They are called sun’s silent killers because they have the ability to reach deeper (than UVB rays) into your skin and damaging those substances responsible for firmness and elasticity.

UVB is a short wavelength light that is not as penetrating or ever present as UVA rays, but they are very powerful and are responsible for sunburns or other visible changes to the skin’s surface (for instance discolorations). They also play a huge role in skin cancers. However, the intensity of UVB rays varies according to the climate, geographical location, and time of the day. For instance, in northern hemispheres, it is more prevalent during summers and from 10 AM to 4 PM (during days hours).

Remember it like this UVB is for burns whereas UVA is for age.

The key take away from this lesson- You need broad spectrum sunscreen because broad spectrum means protection from UVA and UVB rays.

#Lesson 2 –  I understand broad spectrum but what are this SPF and PA?

SPF refers to the sun protection factor and indicates the level of protection from those strong and harmful UVB rays whereas PA (protection grade) indicates the level of protection from the skin damaging UVA rays.

Key take away- try to look for a sunscreen with minimum 30 SPF and P++ (the more the plus sign the better the protection)

#Lesson 3 –  Understanding the different SPF ratings (20,30, 50…)

In practicality, the SPF rating of a sunscreen determines how long the UV rays would take to redden your skin when you are wearing a sunscreen versus when you not. For instance, if your skin would normally become red after 10 minutes of sun exposure then wearing a sunscreen with SPF 15 would allow you to be in the sun for 150 mins (10 x 15) without getting burnt.

Now different sunscreens have different SPF ratings and most of the time people argue that anything above SPF 15 is good or SPF 50 is only slightly better than SPF 15/30 (if I had a dollar for every time someone said this to me, I would be so rich). But this is not at all true.

Okay, let me put it this way –

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays

You might argue that there is an only minor difference (5 %) between SPF15 and SPF50 so why bother?

But wait let’s look at it another way

  • SPF 15 allows 7% of UVB rays into your skin
  • SPF 30 allows 3% of UVB rays into your skin
  • SPF 50 allows 2% of UVB rays into your skin

So you see an SPF 30 will block half the UVB rays that an SPF 15 would let through your skin. Subsequently, SPF 30 allows 1.5 times more UVB rays into the skin than SPF 50, making the later 50 per cent more effective.

Key takeaway –  SPF 50 will definitely provide you more protection than SPF 30.

And even if you apply SPF 50 that does not mean that you can skip the reapplication or just apply a tiny amount.

#Lesson 4 – The right amount of sunscreen you should apply for full protection

Now this lesson is very important because most people under apply sunscreens, using ¼ or ½ the actual amount required. Ideally, you should apply ¼ teaspoon of sunscreen on your face. (WHHAATTT are you kidding?)

No, this estimation is derived from an average of face sizes of different people and the amount of sunscreen used in SPF testing (2mg/cm2 of skin). The size really matters because not applying the current amount will only give you half or even less protection. For instance, if you apply ½ amount of SPF 30, you would only get the protection of  SPF 15.

Reapplying is equally important because some sunscreens are photo unstable and they tend to break down after absorbing too much UV. Regardless, the film of even photo stable sunscreen breaks down, becomes thin and gets rubbed off, making reapplication necessary.

Key takeaway- the right quantity of sunscreen and reapplication is very important.

#Lesson 5 – a.k.a Chemical (organic) v/s Physical (inorganic) sunscreen

Sunscreens are often divided on the basis of their ingredients which can be chemical (organic) and physical (inorganic).

Chemical or organic sunscreens contain organic chemicals (Now wait, ORGANIC HERE DOES NOT MEAN ORGANICALLY GROWN CHEMICALS. IT MEANS THAT THESE CHEMICALS PRIMARILY CONTAIN CARBON ATOMS) as their active ingredients. The active ingredients absorb and filter UV radiation to prevent it from reaching the skin.

Common organic sunscreen ingredients are oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate (and there are several more).

Physical or inorganic sunscreen contains inorganic metal oxides (zinc oxide or titanium oxide) as their main active ingredients. They form a physical barrier and reflect about 4-5% of the UV rays to protect your skin. But for the rest 95% protection, they work in a similar manner as chemical sunscreen and protect your skin from UV by absorbing it.

Key take way – Chemical or physical, doesn’t matter as long as you are wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of 30 SPF.

FINAL THOUGHTS – Sun is the devil when it comes to your skin and premature ageing. You need to wear sunscreen if you want healthy skin.

In my opinion, there is no point of doing any skincare at all if you are not ready to protect your skin with a proper sunscreen.


Sreeja S