13 Things To Consider When Choosing A Sunscreen June 26, 2016

Going to the beach, or shopping, or simply hanging out with friends? Don’t forget to wear your sunscreen. No matter how the weather is – sunny or cloudy – you need to apply sunscreen to protect your skin from damage. The sun’s harmful UV rays not only cause suntan, but can also cause your skin to age prematurely.

Applying sunscreen is one of the most important parts of a skin care routine. Sunscreens come in a variety of forms – lotions, gels, sticks, and broad spectrum. There’s also SPF to consider. It makes my head spin!

But is your sunscreen giving you the right protection? In this article, we hope to provide a few pointers on how to choose the best sunscreen. Read on!

Knowing Your Sunscreen

Protection against UVB rays is evaluated through SPF ratings. SPF 30 is supposed to be best for Indian summers. But, we often do not apply the required amount of sunscreen for adequate protection. It is prudent to buy a sunscreen with a higher SPF so that it gives enough protection, even if not applied in adequate amounts.

Similarly, protection against UVA rays is indicated by the PA rating. The more number of +’s in front of PA, the better the protection offered by the sunscreen.

How To Choose Sunscreen

1. Date Of Manufacture

The fresher the sunscreen, the better the efficacy of the product. The ingredients in the sunscreen tend to break down very easily, even while on the shelf. Hence, it is important to buy the freshest stock possible. Try and get through with one before buying another so that no sunscreen is stocked in your closet till its expiry.

2. Brand

A good brand is always important. Go for international brands, if possible. Brands in the US and Europe have to be certified by either the FDA or the European Union, and they have very strict regulations on certifying the sunscreens.

3. Sunscreen Should Not Contain Dangerous Ingredients

Check the ingredients list on the package. This will help you know if the sunscreen contains oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor that causes allergic reactions (1).

4. Choose A Cream (Not Spray Or Powder)

Spray and powder sunscreens are mineral-based and contain nanoparticles that can enter the bloodstream and cause various health issues (2). Avoid such products and stick to cream-based sunscreens.

5. A Sunscreen That Offers SPF 30 Protection Or Higher

Always check the SPF range mentioned on the sunscreen package. Anything above SPF 15 is considered decent protection. But if you want foolproof protection, go for a sunscreen offering SPF 30 or above.

6. Presence Of Titanium Dioxide Or Zinc Oxide

When checking the ingredient list, look for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These are ingredients added to the product for UV protection. But zinc oxide can make your face look pale and ghostly. They are also harmful for the skin (3).

7. Water And Sweat Resistance

If you are going for a walk or to the beach, using a water and sweat-resistant sunscreen is a must.

8. Kid-friendly Sunscreen

Kids need sunscreens as much as we adults do. But be very careful while choosing a sunscreen for them. Children have sensitive skin, and the ingredients in the sunscreen may cause allergic reactions. Do a little research and buy a cream specially manufactured for kids. These sunscreens do not contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and benzophenones, and are gentle on the skin. Aveeno is a good choice for children. These days, even SPF clothing is available for your little ones.

9. Sunscreen Sprays

As mentioned earlier, it is best to avoid sunscreen sprays. Using sprays leads to a lot of product wastage. But if you still want to go for a spray, avoid inhaling the mist after spraying. Sunscreens in the spray form are best suited for people with hairy bodies or bald spots.

10. No Stinging

Your sunscreen should not sting your face or body. If your sunscreen ‘bites’ you, then it’s time to throw it out and buy something that is comfortable and suits your skin type.

11. Acne-prone Skin

Water-based sunscreens are available in the market. If you have an oily or acne-prone skin, use a water-based sunscreen. These do not cause your skin to break out like oil-based creams.

12. Price Is Not A Yardstick

Just because a sunscreen costs a bomb, it does not mean it is the best. Costly brands can make you feel comfortable with a false sense of security, but may not be as effective as other cheaper brands.

13. Expiration Date

Last, but not the least, check the expiration date on the package. This should become a habit for all of us while buying any product. A product past its expiration date can cause severe harm as the ingredients tend to degrade with time.

How To Apply Sunscreen

About an ounce of sunscreen is needed to cover the exposed skin of an average adult.

  • For cream or gel-based sunscreens, squeeze a dollop of the product into your palm and spread it evenly over all the areas exposed to the sun, including the back of the legs, ears, feet, bald spot, and lips.
  • Buff the sunscreen well into your skin so that it is completely absorbed.
  • Reapply every two hours.
  • For applying spray sunscreen, hold the bottle upright and move it back and forth across the exposed skin. Spray generously for proper coverage and avoid inhaling it.
  • Take extra care while applying spray sunscreens on the face, especially around kids.

Other Tips To Be Safe In The Sun

  • Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before stepping out in the sun.
  • You can wear sunscreen under your makeup as well.
  • Try and wear cotton clothes when you are stepping out. They have a SPF of 4.
  • Stay indoors when UV radiation is at its highest i.e. between noon and early evening.
  • Wear sunglasses when stepping out.
  • Wear a cap, a scarf, or a stole to protect yourself from the sun.

Prevention is better than cure. Buying a good sunscreen will help your skin remain healthy, young, and beautiful. But don’t just pick any product off the shelves. Look for a sunscreen that best suits your skin type. Let us know how you keep yourself safe under sun.

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