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What is SPF in sunscreen?
- Sunscreen protects the skin from sun's dangerous ultraviolet rays in two ways.
- They either reflect the rays away from skin or absorbs before they reach skin.
Tips to prevent sun damage
- "SPF" is sun protection factor and it is measure of protection against UVB only. Actually its UVA rays which are responsible for 90% skin ageing changes. So a broad spectrum sunscreen which protects against both UVA and UVB is the best sunscreen for face. While choosing a good sunscreen don't get mislead by SPF only.
- Sunscreen with SPF 30 does not provide double protection as compared to sunscreen with SPF15. Interestingly SPF 15 filters 93% of UVB, SPF 30 filters 97% .
Best water resistant sunscreens
- The sunrays are strongest between 10am to 4pm and in summer season . Avoid being out in sun during this period.
- Always wear a sunscreens with sun protection factor(SPF) >15 during day time. Apply sunscreen at least 20-30 minutes before going out.
- Select a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. SPF is a measure of protection against UVB only. Look for UVA protection too. Broad spectrum sunscreens contain - benzophenones, cinnamates, sulisobenzone, salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone and ecamsule.
- Apply sunscreen irrespective of cloudy or sunny weather. In cloudy weather it is visible light index that is low, UV index continues to stay high.
- Sunrays can damage eyes also . protect your eyes as well as face with UV protective sunglasses and hat.
- Avoid tanning beds as they contain some harmful UV rays.
- At beaches and hill stations wear long sleeved clothes and broad brimmed hats . Use sunscreen with higher SPF as sunrays are reflected from snow, sand and water.
Best Sunscreens for kids
- While swimming or any active physical workout, go for water resistant sunscreens or very water resistant sunscreen.
- According to FDA in water resistant sunscreen SPF level stays effective after 40 minutes of staying in water. Very water resistant sunscreen means it is effective after 80 minutes of immersion.
- There is nothing known as water proof sunscreen, so reapplication is needed after every 2 hours.
- Sunscreens are not recommended in babies less than 6 months.
- For children older than 6 months look for sunscreen designed for children with SPF >15.
- Skin of babies and children is quite sensitive. So physical sunscreens with ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the best sunscreens for children.
- Avoid chemical sunscreens with para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and benzophenones as they get absorbed in skin and may irritate the skin.