Is your skin adequately protected from the sun?

A number of research studies are being conducted by leading organizations across the world in a bid to unearth the definitive impact of sun exposure on various skin types and the role of sunscreens in skin-protection and prevention of Skin Cancer. While it is a known fact that it is important to always wear sunscreen, a recent report has been strongly indicative of the fact that such general preventive measures might not be just enough. The prime reason for this is the startling discovery that Melanin, the pigment that is produced by our skin cells in response to sun exposure has been found to interfere with cell DNA even two to three hours after sun exposure. So for most of us who are of the opinion that we know enough about sunscreens and take sufficient care in ensuring that our skins are well-protected, it’s certainly time for some serious introspection.

Important Facts about Melanin

Melanin is a natural pigment found in our skin cells that absorbs UV rays, thereby protecting the skin from sunburns and tanning. What was previously believed is that since Melanin is the body’s natural sunblock, it aids in preventing skin cancer. But scientists have revealed that Melanin also has negative effects, which primarily include genetic mutations via the formation of cyclobutanedimer which causes cell mutations. The use of thee right sunscreen in correct quantities and at the required intervals can reduce this harmful mutational tendency of Melanin, thereby reducing your risk of contracting skin cancer.

Does the amount of sunscreen matter?

In our fast-paced daily schedules, measuring and applying sunscreen is really the last thing that comes to mind! But this is to establish once and for all, that the amount of sunscreen matters. And this theory has not just been randomly framed by the sales department of a sunscreen brand, but by is backed by substantial scientific research. A study of the human skin surface is the basis of this theory, which emphasizes on the basic fact that our skin surface is not smooth but highly textured. So while you’re applying sunscreen on your skin, the sunscreen needs to form a protective layer on all levels of your textured skin. This implies that sunscreen should always be applied in two coats; the second one being about 20 minutes after the first one being absorbed properly. Yet another reason why the amount of sunscreen matters is that a large proportion of it gets wiped away with sweating or wiping, and the same needs to be replaced immediately.

Steps to Measure Sunscreen before Application

To avoid cancer scars as far as your skin is concerned, applying sunscreen in adequate quantities should be one of your top priorities. Here are a few steps for measured application of sunscreen.

1. A recent research study unveiled that one teaspoon or approximately 5ml of sunscreen is required to entirely cover one limb surface, or the face or the neck.

2. So if we consider all the exposed parts of your body, front and back on an average, the total amount required would be approximately seven to eight times the same, which is 35 to 40 ml.

3. If you cup one hand and pour sunscreen into it, the quantity would be approximately 35-40 ml. So one this amount can be used for the primary application, and once it has been absorbed, a 2nd layer can be applied after 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Make sure that you apply before sun exposure, during sun exposure and even after sun exposure. If you’re wondering why you need to apply after sun exposure, we’ll elaborate on that in the next paragraph.

Reason for Application of Sunscreen at Night

As part of our fight to prevent skin cancer, it’s equally important that we apply sunscreen not just before or during sun exposure, but after it as well. The reason behind this is that the adverse effects (particularly DNA interference) of Melanin are known to continue even three to four hours after sun exposure. Considering the amount of UV rays we routinely get exposed to during summers, applying sunscreen at night is essential to block its harmful effect.

Using the Right Sunscreen for your Skin Type

Always choose a sunscreen not only based on its SPF value but also its range of protection, which should ideally be broad-spectrum and protect against UVA radiation (that causes wrinkles and ageing spots) as well as UVB radiation (that causes sunburns). Here’s a look at sunscreens in relation to skin types:-

1. Hyper-sensitive skin that always burns and never tans- Above SPF 30, Broad Spectrum

2. Sensitive Skin that mostly burns- SPF 30, Broad Spectrum

3. Skin that sometime burns and sometimes tans- SPF 15 to 30, Broad Spectrum

4. Skin that tans more often than it burns- Minimum SPF 15

5. Skin that is least prone to burning- Minimum SPF 15 

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