Sunscreen: Sunscreens Facts, SPF and Application


What is Sunscreen?

Sunscreen, also commonly known as sun cream, is a lotion, spray, gel or other topical product that absorbs or reflects some of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation on the skin exposed to sunlight and thus helps protect against sunburn. Skin lightening products have sunscreen to protect lightened skin because light skin is more susceptible to sun damage than darker skin. The sun rays consist of two types of harmful rays:

UVB rays are referred to as “burning” rays. They are the rays that cause us to get sunburns…their effects can be immediate and harmful.

UVA rays are thought of as “aging” rays. These rays are responsible for most skin cancer, as well as signs of premature aging (like wrinkles and sun spots)! The scary fact about UVA rays is that they don’t necessarily produce any visible redness on the skin, so we don’t get any sign when they are bombarding us

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

The SPF of a sunscreen is a laboratory measure of the effectiveness of sunscreen — the higher the SPF, the more protection a sunscreen offers against UV-B (the ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn).

Does SPF30 give me Double the Protection as SPF15?

No. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of a sunscreen ability to protect against the UVB rays, the rays that cause sunburn. The SPF is the amount of UV radiation required to cause sunburn on skin with the sunscreen on, relative to the amount required without the sunscreen. So, wearing a sunscreen with SPF 15, your skin will not burn until it has been exposed to 15 times the amount of solar energy that would normally cause it to burn. That means that it has cut down the radiation to 1/15 of the original or blocked 14/15 or 93% of UVB rays. Using the same logic SPF 30 stops (1 – 1/30) or 97 percent of UVB rays. If you go as high as SPF 50 it stops 98 percent of UVB rays. But no matter how high the SPF, it is only a protection against UVB, and NOT the UVA. Many sunscreens do not block UVA radiation, which does not cause sunburn but can increase the rate of melanoma, another kind of skin cancer, so people using sunscreens may be getting too much UVA without realizing it. UVA rays also cause premature aging, including wrinkles, sagging and discoloration. To protect against UVA look for sunscreens with ‘broad protection’ on it. “Broad spectrum” sunscreens are designed to protect against both UVB and UVA.

How to Apply Sunscreen:

The dose used in FDA sunscreen testing is 2 mg/cm² of exposed skin. Provided one assumes an “average” adult build of height 5 ft 4 in (163 cm) and weight 150 lb (68 kg) with a 32 in (82 cm) waist, that adult wearing a bathing suit covering the groin area should apply 29 g (approximately 1 oz) evenly to the uncovered body area. Considering only the face, this translates to about 1/4 to 1/3 of a teaspoon for the average adult face. Larger individuals should scale these quantities accordingly.

The thumb rule is that use SPF15 for normal everyday brief exposures and SPF 30 if you are going to stay in the sun for a longer period (for example playing outdoor sports). If you have got very fair or sensitive skin or red hair, use SPF50.

Research indicates that sunscreen needs to be reapplied within 2 hours in order to remain effective. Not reapplying could even cause more cell damage than not using sunscreen at all, due to the release of extra free radicals from those sunscreen chemicals which were absorbed into the skin.

Sunscreen Myths

Myth 1: I don’t need to wear sunscreens in winter or on cloudy days: Not true. Although the sun seems less severe in winters or in the rainy seasons you need as much protection from the UV rays in these seasons as in summers.

Myth 2: I don’t need to wear sunscreens if I am wearing long sleeves: UV rays may not be as good as the X-rays but they can penetrate through your clothing. So wear your sunscreen under your long sleeves.

Myth 3: I do not need a sunscreen if I need a tan: There are many other things beside a tanned look that UV rays of the sun cause- cancer, premature aging, including wrinkles, sagging and discoloration. So do yourself a favour and use that SPF tube.


39 thoughts on “Sunscreen: Sunscreens Facts, SPF and Application

      1. Great post!!but i think we can prevent tanning by wearing long sleeves, though not sure if it would do any good as far as otherside effects like, ageing, wrinkles, sunspots etc are concerned.

  1. One question here though.

    How do we actually know that the protection mentioned in the product is accurate?

    As one would think higher the SPF in the product higher the price in spite of brands. As we can find the same SPF 50 in Neutrogena starts at – rs: 500, and how Lotus herbal is able to offer SPF 50 at – rs: 200?

    Is there any basic ingredient we should look for on those?

    Also many others drugstore brands offer sun protection and great claims, if its only a question of choosing a product that fits my budget and needs and that keeps true to the claim it would be really good to know.

    1. You don’t have to I think.. I am sure many of the day creams have some amount of SPF in them. Unless you are selected to play in India-Australia match in the sun, I am sure you would be fine.

        1. Hmm.. the sun and its minions have noted your point. They are surely obligated to leave you alone now. :quiet:

  2. Hi Deb,

    The major constituent in both Sun Block and Sunscreen (yeah both are different things) are Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide. The concentration of both of them should be 15-25% each in whatever product you are looking at.

    1. i used to rati, i used to. i used to force myself because i know how important it is. but now i’ve had enough! no matte which sunscreen i use, it breaks me into a sweat and then i get sunscreen swirls all over my body, you know what i mean? i hope you do. it’s irritating. i’ve had enough. i want my skin to breathe!!
      .-= Rima Kaur´s last blog ..Beneath The Smiles =-.

            1. my skin doesn’t stay greasy for long either; but when i sweat (unavoidable in this heat!) even a little bit the whole thing becomes a mess. plus i can’t keep reapplying it after every half an hour just to make sure it’s not looking bad!

  3. Rima, i used to complain about sun protection, but it came to my notice after having very close friends with skin cancer, that prevention is the only solution here.

    Get a consultation with a dermatologist, and let him check the photo damage on you skin with a Wood’s lamp. Scares for Life…well, at least i am 😐

  4. I would like to know the difference between sunblocks and sunscreens.

    I can totally relate to Rima Di.I use lotus gel sunscreen for face and breezy berry sunblock lotion for body.Both make me sweat like a :pig: throughout the day.And though my sunblock is supposed to be sweat :sweat: proof and all,My arms look fried and darkened by the end of the day :-(( ..Y so?
    Is it the climate that determines the performance of a sun protector?

  5. I hate applying sunscreen, but I have to when I go out….as Eno Kumar said, nowadays, all day creams are coming with UV protection, so that’s good :-)). BTW, steering off completely from the topic, can anyone help me here with finding a free flv to mpeg converter…all the ones I downloaded came with free virus…. :-(( :-(( . Eno Kumar Help needed, POutmati….. :struggle: :struggle: :struggle: :struggle:

  6. Lol, I shall ask my tech savvy students. They would be knowing about it. 🙂

  7. ?:) Hi, can anyone help me answer my quest.. that, can we reapply sunscreen if we have our makeup on?how can one apply sunscreen on top of the makeup for an occasion?

  8. hi all………….!!! i face the same problem as that of Rima 😥 :smug: ..i have tried a lot of sunscreens from almost all the brands but they all tend to make my facial skin looking like as if it has been oiled and they also break me out……………….. :weep: :weep: :weep: i took a pledge not to use any sunscreen again :struggle: but i have a question :toothygrin: can lactocalamine lotion be used as a sunscreen lotion??? 😕 please let me know if i can use lacto calamine lotion as sunscreen when i have to stay out for short duration of time??(1-2 hrs)..i belong to jammu……..plz..plz benefit me with ur valuable advice :puchhi: :hughright: waitinnnggggg :waiting: :waiting: :waiting: :present:

  9. Hi……
    I have some questions please reply me.
    1.My hairs are so frizzy and dry i already used lots of shampoo, conditioner [DOVE-INTENCE CARE, LO’REAL, GARNIER OIL SHAMPOO, PANTEEN and i do oiling ever 2 times in week but no noticable changE,,,,, :scream:
    2.Is there any sunscreen for hair…. ?:)
    I also like your review on dove shampoo and conditioner,,,that’s me who’s status u defined..thanks a ton… :thanks:


  10. The review was most helpful since I was considering whether I would like to invest in this particular Lotus suscreen or not 😉

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