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What's the right SPF sunscreen for Indian skin?
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Did you think that sunscreen lotions and creams were only for Caucasian skin types? Did you come back with sunburn the last time you were at the beach? Have you noticed how your skin burns at times?
 
We have a lot to learn about sunscreens and what are the ideal ones for our skins. This article also helps you understand why we need them and what SPF is right for you.
 
Planning a beachside vacation? Or are you just an outdoors person who spends long hours in the sun?
 
Taking care of your skin can protect you from the harsh rays (especially ultraviolet rays) of the sun and lower your risks of developing skin cancer. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female; you need photo protection even if you are Indian!
 
How do sunscreens help?
 
Most sunscreens have a unique molecular structure that absorbs the high-energy ultraviolet (UV) rays and converts them to a less harmful energy level, thus preventing the harmful effect of the UV rays from penetrating the skin. Essentially, sunscreens are effective against either UVA (UV rays with a longer wavelength responsible for premature aging of the skin) alone, UVB (UV rays with a medium wavelength, associated with sunburn, cancer, and cataract formation) alone or both. (Source: USA Today)
 
What is SPF?
 
Sunscreen protection factor, or SPF, was a concept created by Austrian scientist Franz Greiter. Pharmaceutical companies soon came up with lotions and creams to be used as effective photoprotection agents. SPF was given a numerical rating that tells us the degree of protection that is being provided by the sunscreen lotion.
 
How effective are SPFs?
 
Your skin is effectively protected if 2 mg/cm 2 layer of sunscreen has been applied. This literally means ½ teaspoon (~3ml) to each arm, to the face and the neck. More than a teaspoon (~6ml) is needed for application to each leg, the chest and back.It should also remain on your skin when you sweat, swim or during long periods of exercise. (Source: International Journal of Dermatology)
 
Sunscreens are applied 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure, followed by one reapplication 15-30 minutes after the sun exposure begins. Further reapplication is only necessary after activities such as swimming, or after excessive sweating.(Source: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology)
 
Which is the ideal SPF for Indian skin?
 
According a recently (2007) published article in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, the ideal choice of sunscreens are those that effectively block both UVB and UVA rays, which is done with an SPF of 30 or greater. The ideal sunscreen, therefore, should have a high SPF rating and be non-toxic, water-resistant and, importantly, not too expensive!
 
So, choose your sunscreen with care, apply as directed and enjoy carefree hours in the sun.
 
Did you know that you will have long-term benefits by using sunscreen? Tell us if you had any difficulty in finding a good sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Do you think Indians really don’t need sunscreen since we don’t go sunbathing as much as Caucasians?
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