Stepping out into the sun without sunscreen is known to cause long-term damage to the skin which is why experts place a huge emphasis on SPF present in your sunscreen. Sunscreen is scientifically proven to protect skin from the harmful rays of the sun. When we go out into the sun, we are exposed to two types of rays - UVA rays and UVB rays. UVA rays are responsible for skin aging and tanning whereas UVB rays are responsible for sunburn. The most serious consequence of neglecting sunscreen is skin cancer. Other consequences include damage to skin cells and blood vessels. This directly leads to skin looking older, more wrinkled, dry, and discolored.
How does SPF protect you?
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) essentially measures how efficiently your sunscreen will protect you from the UVB rays. Therefore, theoretically, SPF 100 should protect you more than SPF 50 or SPF 30. However, according to research, the difference in protection isn’t that high. SPF 50 filters out about 98% of UVB rays whereas, SPF 30 filters out 97%. In comparison to these filters, SPF 100 filters out 99% percent of the UVB rays. The small difference in the degree of protection is often overlooked by consumers who believe that a higher SPF number provides the maximum protection. In labs, under perfect conditions, SPF 100 will offer the most protection against sunburn, UVA damage and DNA damage. But in practice, things turn out differently.
Where do people go wrong while applying sunscreen?
When people buy sunscreen with high SPF values they forget to adhere to other important factors that keep their skin protected during sun exposure. High SPF values give them a false sense of security and they stop reapplying sunscreen when they are out in the sun for longer duration. Reapplying sunscreen (irrespective of the SPF value) every few hours to ensure maximum protection is essential. Applying the right amount of sunscreen before going out and continuing to do so every two hours (especially while sweating or swimming) is the best shield against sun damage to the skin. When sunscreen is used correctly, SPF 30 and SPF 50 can offer the best protection for people with the most sensitive skin.
Some research has also shown that high SPF values require more chemicals for production. These ingredients may cause other damage to the skin linked to health risks like tissue damage and hormone disruptions. Further, applying sunscreen isn’t the only way to prevent sun damage to the skin, you also have to ensure you wear sunglasses, a hat and clothes that cover your skin as much as possible to avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun. If you’re on a beach in a swimsuit, irrespective of the SPF, make sure you reapply sunscreen every few hours and find a place with enough shade. Additionally, slathering too much sunscreen on, or applying it unevenly will prove counterproductive and may still lead to sunburn.
The best sunscreen you can purchase is one that offers broad spectrum coverage, is waterproof and has an SPF of at least 30.