Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

Standing under the sweltering heat of the sun for prolonged durations can take a toll on your skin’s health. Not only do you have to worry about getting tanned, but there is a risk of developing skin cancer as well. A major portion of the risk can be attributed to the intensity of ultraviolet radiation that one gets exposed to. Sunscreens are perfect for limiting the level of exposure and reducing skin damage caused by solar radiation. Let us take a look at what factors one would have to consider when buying a sunscreen.


Ultraviolet radiation can be classified into two types - UVA and UVB. The sun protection factor of any sunscreen determines the amount of protection it has to offer against UVB radiation. A higher SPF number denotes a higher degree of protection. SPF 15 offers an elementary level of protection which is suitable for most people. SPF 30 offers intermediate levels of protection which is suitable for people who stay outdoors for a significant time period. SPF 50 offers higher levels of protection and is generally used by people with prevailing skin conditions. Also, most sunscreens filter out just UVB radiation. Try looking for broad-spectrum sunscreens that help in reducing your exposure to UVA radiation as well.

The Working Mechanism of Sunscreens

Sunscreens can be classified into two major types. Physical sunscreens make use of minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These compounds are quite efficient in reflecting the harmful incident UV radiation. However, these sunscreens are rendered ineffective the minute they’re wiped away. These types of sunscreens aren’t ideal if you’re one who sweats a lot.

Chemical sunscreens are composed of organic compounds such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octisalate, homosalate and octinoxate. These compounds get penetrated into the skin and you don’t have to worry about the cream getting wiped off your face. The chemicals get broken down when exposed to UV radiation and in this process, the radiation gets converted to heat. The organic compounds do get used up over time so you may be required to reapply the sunscreen if you’re outdoors for long periods.

Sunscreens based on your skin types

Not every sunscreen would work effectively for everyone. Its efficiency is highly reliant on your skin type. Here, we talk about which sunscreen variant would be most effective based on your age, dryness and complexion:

  • Dry Skin:

    This skin type majorly benefits from having some sort of a moisturizing effect within the sunscreen cream to hydrate the skin. Also, physical sunscreens tend to last longer on dry skin. Try to look for a creamy sunscreen variant which would soothe your skin and keep it nice and soft.

  • Oily and Acne Prone Skin::

    People with this skin type are better off using light sunscreen lotions or gel-based sunscreens. The greasy and creamy variants might aggravate their prevailing condition. Also, try to avoid products containing PABA and oxybenzone.

  • Fair Skin:

    People with fair skin are slightly more prone to sun damage in comparison to other skin types. They usually need to put in some extra effort to stay protected from the sun. Products rated SPF 30 or higher are ideal for this demographic.

  • Dark Skin:

    Although people with dark skin have a lower susceptibility to sun damage, sunscreens must still not be neglected. Chemical sunscreens with an SPF 15 rating would be sufficient to keep your skin safe. You might want to avoid physical sunscreens unless the minerals are extremely fine. They tend to leave behind a white layer on the skin.

  • Children’s Skin:

    Kids in their formative years have thin and sensitive skin. There is always a chance that some chemical sunscreens would cause some sort of an adverse reaction with the skin. It is generally advisable to prioritize physical sunscreens over chemical sunscreens.

  • Aged up Skin:

    Old people tend to have loose and wrinkled up skin. They have low amounts of collagen which makes the skin lose its firmness. You need to choose sunscreens that are high on antioxidants to slow down free radical damage inflicted on your skin.

With the increasing level of pollution which assists in the depletion of the ozone layer, our exposure to UV radiation goes up significantly. It is important to include the use of sunscreens in our daily routine to counteract the harmful effects of the harsh sun rays on the health of our skin. Share some of your tips and opinions on beating the heat in the comments section below!


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