9 Important Facts About Suncreens

Everybody knows the importance of sunscreens. Everybody knows about UV radiations. But still there are many misunderstandings about the proper use of sunscreens. 😳 Thus, it is imperative to know the science behind the use of sunscreens. Let’s go-

1. Why should I use Sunscreen?

Ans.– The natural sunlight contains UV or ultraviolet rays. These rays are highly penetrating. There are two types- UVA and UVB. UVA are much more penetrating than UVB. UVB causes visible damage like tanning, sunburn, erythema (redness and rashes) etc. While the UVA damage is not necessarily visible, it is in fact more perilous. It can cause wrinkles, ageing and increases the chances of developing skin cancer. Sunscreens prevent your skin from the sun for a longer time than when it is naked. 🙂

Harmful effects of UV rays!!
Harmful effects of UV rays!!

2. What is SPF?

Ans.- The SPF or Sun Protection Factor is a measure of potency of the sunscreen. The number of SPF defines the length of time for which your skin is protected. Say my skin develops sunburn in 10 min of sun exposure; if I use a SPF 30 It would take 30 times more time (i.e. 300 min) to develop sunburn. You can select the SPF range depending on time of exposure to the Sun. Just follow the chart below-

Choose your SPF
Choose your SPF (click to enlarge)

Although it has been seen that, sunscreens with SPF upto 20 are 92-96% effective; while sunscreens with SPF 30+ are 98-99% effective against the sun.

3. What does the sunscreen contain which protects the skin?

Ans.- Sunscreens come under the category of OTC or “over the counter” medicinal products. So, regulatory bodies like FDA are responsible for the ingredients added to the sunscreens. Basically, there are two types of sun protection- Physical protection- The active ingredients act as barrier and reflect UV rays. These are the agents which form the ugly white layer on your skin. But nowadays, they are finely divided into micro particles so that they are invisible yet still active against the sun.

skin with and without sun refelecting uv rays
skin without and with sun reflecting uv rays

There are two major FDA approved substances used

  • Titanium dioxide
  • Zinc oxide

Chemical protection- These agents absorb the UV radiations that are incident upon your skin. They are further classified as UVA absorbers and UVB absorbers.

There are 15 FDA approved substances used.

Some of the common ones are-

  • Aminobenzoic acid
  • Avobenzone
  • Ecamsule
  • Homosalate
  • Octyl salicylate
  • Padimate O

Thus, it is obvious that a sunscreen containing UVA and UVB protection is a must. Such sunscreens are what we call broad spectrum sunscreens.

Reapply every 2-3 hours.4. When should I apply or reapply Sunscreen?

Ans.- It is advisable to apply sunscreen around half an hour before you step out in the sun. This gives enough time for the ingredients to settle down start working.

Reapplication depends on the SPF. A rule of thumb would be to multiply your SPF by 10. For example, if you are using SPF 20, then you should reapply after 20×10=200 min i.e. about every 3 hours. But as we live very close to the equator, sun rays are especially hard on us. 🙁  Reapplication every 2-3 hours is highly recommended.

5. If my moisturizer has SPF 20 and my foundation has SPF 15, am I getting SPF 30+?

Ans.- SPF does not add up like that. 😀 Your moisturizer will protect you 20 times and foundation for 15 times than a skin with no protection. The protection of the foundation will be over before the moisturizer. So you will not get SPF 35. When you apply more than one product, you will get the benefit of the one with highest SPF. So the effective SPF in the above case is 20. Moreover you do not know if the sun protection in your makeup is broad spectrum or not!! 😯 Which is why, there is no point in layering sunscreen with any other product. If you use a Sunscreen with SPF 30+ it is completely OK if none of your makeup products have any sun protection.

6. Should I apply sunscreen before or after applying makeup?

Ans.- The appropriate sequence could be- Cleansing, toning, moisturizing, sunscreen (you can use a moisturizer with SPF 30+ ). Let the sunscreen settle for a few minutes and then start the painting ;).

7. Is it OK if I don’t use sunscreen in winters or on cloudy days?

Ans.– Temperature and clouds do not filter out UV rays. You will damage your skin every time you are out in the sun. Hence, sunscreen should be a part of your daily skin care routine all year round.

8. Am I protected from the sun if I am wearing long sleeves, scarves, gloves, socks etc?

Ans.- UV rays can penetrate your skin!! Can layers of clothing really stand a chance? 🙄 Even if you wrap yourself like a mummy, you will still be exposed to the UV rays. Sunscreens are the only real protection against the Sun. 😎 Besides your skin, your hair also suffers a lot from the UV rays. You can use different sun protection products for hair too. The rules are same for hair and skin.

Lots of options!!!9. Which the best Sunscreen brand?

Ans.- I am yet to find the answer for this question. I started using sunscreens only a couple of summers ago. I have used three brands until now- Lakmé Sun Expert Sun Protection Crème with SPF 30, Lotus Safe sun SPF 30(120 g/ Rs. 220/-) and Everyuth Sun care SPF 30++ (50 g/ Rs. 95/-).

Lakme Sunscreen was my first buy. It never broke me out, was affordable, never felt chalky, oily or mask-like. The only problem was… IT DID NOTHING TO SAVE ME FROM THE SUN!! I still tanned like crazy… 😡 Repurchase?….. No way!!!

Lotus Sun screen was my second purchase. It prevented my skin from sunburns. But it dries my skin out and makes it look shiny at the same time. The best thing about it is that it is waterproof. So good for swimmers. Repurchase?…. Until I find a better one.. Have to!!!

Everyuth Sun care SPF 30++ is what I bought recently. It is readily absorbed into the skin. Doesn’t leave a white film. But has an odour which I find really obnoxious. Sun protection is okayish. What I really find troublesome is that it is very drying. So it is totally not for me. But I still found Lotus sunscreen better than Everyuth.

I bought the Lotus Safe Sun Sunscreen gel SPF 20 (  Anything below 30 feels inadequate) only a couple of days ago. It is one of a kind as I’ve never come across a gel sunscreen before. It is very light, cooling, refreshing and very discreet. You won’t be able to tell if I’m wearing it. Has an agreeable odour. It has Babchi seed extract and Phenyl benzimidazole sulfonic acid (Ensulizole) as the primary ingredients. Now what worries me is that Ensulizole protects you only against UVB. I am not sure how effective the Babchi seeds are. But I wore it in the sun and it was okay. The pack says Full spectrum sun protection!! So my current Sun care regime is that I apply the Lotus sunscreen crème SPF 30 and for reapplication I use Lotus Safe Sun Sunscreen gel SPF 20.

If I have to pick only one of the above four, it would be Lotus Safe sun SPF 30.

But I am nowhere near finding my HG sunscreen. If you guys have any reccos, please tell us…… So girls, protect your skin and hair. And remember, the only way to completely avoid sun damage is to stay at home!! 😀 But, a little sunscreen everyday keeps the skin woes away!! 😎

Sunscreen is a MUST!!

Until next time… Ba-bye!!!


Further readings:

Image Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


16 thoughts on “9 Important Facts About Suncreens

  1. Excellent write up. It is lovely to have a pharmacist amongst us isn’t it? So much of scientific facts. Love it 🙂

    Thank you Mrunmayee..

    Btw, picnic kaisa raha??

    1. Awww… Thanks Poornima.. You are always generous with compliments…

      The picnic was wonderful.. Binged a little but it was taken care of… 😀

  2. Hey Mrunmayee,
    Quite an informative article. Sunscreen is one product (umbrella is another :)) which I cannot live without. Aroma Magic has some nice variants of sunscreens for different skin types. The one which I like the most is “SunScreen Cream Sun Block SPF 50”. Gives a good protection. It has got matte finish and instantly brightens up the skin taking away any traces of oiliness.
    The only con that I can think of is, it is slightly sticky when you touch it but it doesn’t show up on the face. Mine is a combo skin and it works well for my skin. The stickiness can be set right by dusting some loose powder over it.

  3. Hey Mrunmayee….nice post…I recently bght Lotus Herbals sunblock in spray from with SPF 50…..trying it for the first time so hope it works well 😉

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