By Vaishnavi Ragipani
Let’s cut to the chase, we all know that you’ve been avoiding daily sun protection! I absolutely hated sunscreen when I was younger because there weren’t many options that didn’t leave ashy purple casts on dark complexions. But the great thing about 2020 is that our sunscreen options are endless and cater to more diverse skin types than ever before. So here at FABSOC, we’re going to break down sunscreen to make all these options simple for you.
So what is sun damage?
Let’s start from the basics, the sun’s has 2 forms of ultraviolet radiation UVA and UVB which can cause skin damage and cancers. UVB rays cause sunburn and exposure is linked to skin cancers whereas, UVA rays cause skin damage such as wrinkles and pigmentation. To get the most out of your sunscreen, make sure it’s “broad spectrum” to protect against UVA and UVB damage.
What is SPF?
I’m sure we all instinctively know that SPF 50 provides more protection than SPF30 in your sunscreen but what does it actually mean? SPF or ‘sun protection factor’ is a measure of how long a sunscreen will protect you from UVB rays and sunburn versus when not using it.
Sunscreens can be broken down to 2 types, physical/mineral sunscreens and chemical sunscreens. Physical sunscreens act as sunblock, scattering UV rays before they can penetrate into the skin. They contain active minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are thicker in consistency and are less likely to cause skin irritation. Zinc oxide is known to leave white casts so proceed with caution if you have dark complexion. You’ll recognise some physical sunscreens from your childhood including Cancer Council’s Classic Sunscreen.
Chemical sunscreens are a recent personal favourite because they don’t leave ashy purple casts on darker complexions! These types settle into the skin and absorb UV rays before they can penetrate deeper into the skin, acting as UV organic filters. Their name suggests that they are less natural than physical sunscreens however the active ingredients within them both are chemically derived. They can contain oxybenzone and octisalate and are thinner, making it easier to apply to the skin. They do take time to kick in so make sure you apply it before sun exposure as advised by your product’s instructions. Some active ingredients can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions so it’s best to double check with your doctor if you are concerned about reactions.
As with sunscreen in general, it is absolutely essential whether we’re boiling in 40 degree weather or enjoying an overcast spring day. Sun protection is also not only limited to sunscreen so you should always Slip Slop Slap Seek and Slide.