I remember the first time I’d heard of sunscreen. I was in school when I saw an ad by a leading skincare brand, which had hundreds of women carrying umbrellas on the streets of Mumbai. I was enamoured by the concept but at that time, I never gave it a second thought. Growing up, I was out in the sun for hours and never paid heed to my skin or its protection from the sun. But after working in the beauty industry for years now, I’ve debunked many myths around sunscreen. Here are a few of these I thought I’d share with you.
1. The higher the SPF, the better.
Honestly, I almost believed this one. Back in 2013, every brand had launched a bottle with up to SPF 70 which made most of us think, the higher the SPF the better the coverage. And that’s only half-true. When you’re living and working in a city (like most of us), you’re mostly confined to indoor spaces. In this case, you don’t need more than SPF 30. What you need more than the number (of your SPF) is protection against UVA and UVB rays. Instead of buying a higher number, look for PA ++ on the bottle to make sure you have broad-spectrum protection.
2. Re-application is more important than the number.
If you buy SPF 70 before heading to a beach but only apply it once, chances are you’ll be exposed to UV damage in an hour or two. Instead, carry a sunscreen between SPF 30-50 and re-apply it depending on the amount of time you’ll be in the sun, especially if you are planning on swimming.
3. Darker skin burns too.
We have more melanin than people with lighter skin, hence we don’t get freckles and have slimmer chances of skin cancer (thank you God!) but that, in no way means your skin won’t burn. Both my sister and I have had instances of redness, itching and sunburns on our vacation to France. So if you’re hitting a beach, use a sunblock (it physically blocks the sun’s rays from entering your skin) and re-apply it every two hours. You should also carry aloe vera to calm angry skin.
Many experts reiterate how using a sunscreen helps delay ageing. So use a sunscreen correctly! Here are our Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturiser SPF 15 (Rs 399), Avene Very High Protection Spray SPF 50+ (Rs 2,400) and Nivea Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF 50 (Rs 306).
Understand what your skin needs and the climate and atmosphere you are in before you decide on the kind of sun protection you are planning to use. Just know that sunscreen is important even if you don’t see the sun.