How to choose the right sunscreen for your skin

Sunscreen plays a pivotal role in protecting the skin from harmful solar radiations and preserving its health. Here’s a quick guide to help you make an informed decision.

We live in a country where the sun shines brightly upon us every single day of the year. While we’re thankful for it, sun’s radiations can have damaging effects on our skin. The depletion of the ozone layer in our atmosphere has greatly increased the risk and severity of this damage. This is why sunscreen has become a staple in our skincare routines. But are you sure you’ve got the right one? Read on to find out.

Can you do without sunscreen?

No. In addition to protecting your skin from detrimental UVA/UVB radiations, it does the following:

  • Drastically decreases the risk of skin cancer
  • Avoids premature ageing of your skin
  • Slows down the appearance of wrinkles

Furthermore, the damage from sunburns takes a long time to repair. So why not avoid it altogether?

Should sunscreen be used only during summer?

Again, no. Sunscreen has to be applied every single day of the year – even on cloudy or rainy days. Solar radiations can penetrate through the clouds to reach you.

How to pick a sunscreen?

More expensive does not always mean better. Let’s get the basics right first. Make sure all of the following pointers are ticked:

  • Broad Spectrum: Shields your skin from UVA/UVB radiations.
  • Minimum of SPF 30: SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor – an indication of how well it combats sunburn.
  • Waterproof or water resistant: This provides longer wear.

Which is better – Chemical or Mineral (Physical) sunscreen?

This is where it gets tricky. The difference between them is in their mechanism of protecting the skin from harmful radiation. Let’s look at them both in detail:

  • Its ingredients absorb UV rays and neutralize them to protect your skin. While it fulfils the purpose, chemicals from it get absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin and accumulate there. This can be detrimental to your skin health in the long run and can cause irritation if your skin is sensitive.
    • You need to apply this 15-20 minutes before stepping out in the sun, and reapply the sunscreen at regular intervals for it to be effective.
    • The upside is that the formulation is easy to apply and does not leave a white cast on your skin.
    • While Chemical sunscreens remain a popular (and reasonably priced) choice, make sure you pick one without the chemical ingredient oxybenzone (which is linked to several health risks).
  • Mineral sunscreen:
    • It creates a physical barrier (which is why it is also called Physical sunscreen) or shield against the UV rays, and reflects them away like small mirrors would.
    • Mineral sunscreens are effective as soon as they are applied, and need reapplication at regular intervals as well.
    • They usually tend to leave a white cast on the skin, but you will find a lot of brands that have resolved this.
    • The biggest upside of Mineral sunscreens is that their ingredients are scientifically proven to be harmless. That makes them a more clinically safe and credible choice.

Now that you are well-equipped to make an informed decision about the right sunscreen for yourself, we wish you a happy, healthy and sun-protected skin!


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