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Does Sunscreen Protect Your Skin From Sunburns? An Expert Weighs In

Does Sunscreen Protect Your Skin From Sunburns? An Expert Weighs In

If someone asked us about the single most important thing you should do to keep your skin healthy, radiant, and all-around youthful-looking, we’d spit out, ‘‘Wear Sunscreen!’’ faster than we reach for a glass of wine at 5 p.m. on a Friday. It’s super important to slather it on, no matter where you are spending your day, whether you’re indoors, on a flight, by the pool, out at lunch, down for a walk, or in transit. This is because UV rays from the sun damage DNA, age skin cells, cause wrinkles and sunburn, and can even provoke cancer!

That said, long summer days spent lazing on a beach may be great for our mental health, but they can just easily turn into a skincare nightmare. While we know SPF is essential for protecting us from damaging sun exposure, even the most diligent applier-and-reapplier of SPF has probably missed a spot at some point leading to sunburn. To understand if sunscreen really helps prevent sunburns, we spoke to Celebrity Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr. Soma Sarkar, founder of Dr. Soma’s Aesthetic Clinic to ask the most burning SPF questions. Keep scrolling to get the scoop.

What Are The Causes Of Sunburn?

Sunburn is a very common skincare concern, especially in tropical countries such as ours. There are different types of skin. Some of them are more sensitive to sunburn. For example, folks with light skin are more prone to sunburn than those with warmer skin tones. This is because of the higher melanin present in warmer skin tones. It also depends on the type of sun exposure you have – for example, if you are in a general plateaued place you won’t have many issues regarding sunburns. But, if you are on a mountain or on a beachside exposed to the sun for longer hours you can develop sunburns easily irrespective of your skin tone. So this is something that has to be kept in mind. The degree of sunburn depends on your geographic location, skin type as well as the duration of sun exposure. 

Does Sunscreen Protect Our Skin From Sunburn?

Sunscreen helps in preventing sunburn. However, the sunscreen formula you use has to suit the weather, your location, as well as your skin type. For example, the sunscreen you’ll use for your day-to-day wear might be different than the one you use while chilling at the beachside. “I always prefer to prescribe my patients a physical sunscreen basically which contains a high amount of zinc oxide. It forms a physical barrier on the skin and helps you prevent sunburn,” says Dr. Soma Sarkar. Also, it’s important to reapply your sunscreen every 4 hours when you are outdoors. Even if you are indoors you have to use your sunscreen at least twice a day. Secondly, SPF is the most crucial part when it comes to buying sunscreen. SPF refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block ultraviolet B rays which cause sunburns. Plus, the SPF rating is the measure of the time it would take to get you sunburnt if you were not wearing sunscreen as opposed to the time it would take when you have your sunscreen on. So the higher the SPF, the longer it would take for your skin to develop a sunburn. So if you’re wearing SPF 50, it would take 50 times more time to get burnt than without the sunscreen

What SPF Level Is Best To Prevent Sunburn?

Products with higher SPF don’t give you more protection. However, higher SPF products are only marginally better at warding off UVB rays, according to both EWG and the Skin Cancer Foundation. SPF 30 blocks nearly 97% of UVB radiations, SPF 50 blocks about 98%, and SPF 100 blocks about 99% of UVB rays. Experts recommend using an SPF of at least 30 or higher. SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of the sun’s UVB rays. Products with higher SPF numbers block slightly more of the sun’s rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s UVB rays.

How To Choose A Sunscreen Formula To Avoid Sunburn?

As we know there are two types of sun rays i.e., UVA and UVB. UVA rays are responsible for causing age spots and wrinkles while UVB causes burning. Broad-spectrum sunscreens provide protection against both kinds. Hence it’s important to choose a formula that’s broad spectrum and has a PA++ rating. PA+ basically refers to the amount of protection grade the sunscreen offers against the harmful UVA rays. From low to extremely high – the rating differs. If you’re buying a sunscreen, anything with PA+++ offers high protection and is good enough.

If you have acne-prone skin, it’s important to check if the product is non-comedogenic. The term non-comedogenic is labeled on all skincare products that are tested and proven to cause none-to-minimal pore blockage. They are less likely to clog pores, hence resulting in lower chances of breakouts. All in all, not only is it important to apply sunscreen every two hours or sooner if your swim or you sweat, but the amount of sunscreen you apply is also crucial. You need to apply at least one teaspoon of sunscreen to cover up the whole face and neck. 

And don’t forget – SPF = BFF!

Featured Image: Instagram

27 May 2022

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