Sunscreen and FAQs

The ultimate guide to Sunscreen – Misconceptions and 6 FAQs

I know you must be wondering why am I even talking about something which is not all relevant (according to some of you) at this point of time. I understand It’s been a while since we have actually gone out in the sun and looking at the current condition we don’t even know how long will it take more.


Since the name says sunscreen, it doesn’t mean it is to be used only when you are going out or on sunny days. It doesn’t matter whether you are going out or not, or it is bright, cloudy rainy or whatever, sunscreen is a vital part of our daily routine.

One more misconception: All the boys and men out there, this article is equally important for you. Most of you relate sunscreen to beauty product for women and do not consider it essential to use. However, it is as important as a deodorant for you 😛

Now that we have clarified the two most common misconceptions, let us go ahead and understand various questions related to sunscreen.

Sunscreen and its FAQs

The first question that comes to mind when we look for sunscreen:

What is SPF, and how do I find the right SPF number for me?

SPF stands for Sun protection factor. It is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect skin from UVB rays, radiation that can cause sunburn, damaged skin, and can contribute to skin cancer. Two types of UV light can harm our skin — UVA and UVB. (UVA protection isn’t rated.).

What does the number tell?

Let’s suppose your skin would burns typically after 10 minutes in the sun, then if you apply an SPF 15 sunscreen you can stay stay in the sun without burning for approximately 150 minutes (a factor of 15 times). Though, this is a rough estimate that depends on your skin type, the intensity of sunlight, weather conditions and amount of sunscreen used.

Also, people misunderstand the number and think higher the SPF, higher is the protection. This is not the case. The SPF scale is not linear, e.g. SPF 15 filters out approximately 93% of the UVB rays, SPF 30 keeps out about 97% of the UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. Hence using higher SPF won’t make a difference. Dermatologists recommend using an SPF15 or SPF30.

 Levels of SPF:

  • Low (4, 6, 8, 10)
  • Medium or Moderate (15, 20, 25)
  • High (30, 40, 50)
  • Very high (50+)

How do you pick a sunscreen?  

Look for the one which is water and sweat resistant, broad-spectrum coverage with an SPF of at least 30. A broad-spectrum is the one which protects you from both UVA and UVB. Ingredients with broad-spectrum protection include benzophenones (oxybenzone), cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), sulisobenzone, salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone (Parsol 1789) and ecamsule (Mexoryl SX). The term water-resistant means that the SPF is maintained for up to 40 minutes in water. Very water-resistant means the SPF is maintained for 80 minutes in water.

What are the types?

They are divided into two types depending on how they work. Some work by scattering the light, reflecting it away from your body. Others absorb the UV rays before they reach your skin.

Physical sunscreen (including the minerals titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) block and scatter the rays before they penetrate your skin.

Chemical sunscreen (like avobenzone and octisalate) absorb UV rays before they can damage your skin.

How should you apply ?

You should use 2 milligrams of sunscreen for each square centimetre of skin’s surface. Wondering, what did I just say 😛 In simpler terms, a quarter-sized for your face and a shot glass worth for your body. Keep re-applying every two-three hours. You should apply the sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes prior to going out in the sun.  Women should apply the sunscreen under the makeup.

 Which sunscreen is right for me?

  • Creams: Use a cream-based sunscreen if you have dry skin.
  • Lotions: This type is preferred for application on large areas like hands and legs. In comparison to creams, they are thinner and less greasy.
  • Gel: They are good for summers and work best in hairy areas, such as the scalp or chest Stick. They are generally used to apply around the eyes.
  • Spray: Sprays are easy to apply to children. Don’t spray near the face or mouth to prevent inhalation of the product.

“If you have acne or oily skin, make sure that your sunscreen is labelled as ‘non-comedogenic,’ which means that it has been shown not to block pores and ff you have dry skin, look for moisturizers with sunscreen or sunscreens that contain hydrating ingredients”

 Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research, dermatology department, Mount Sinai Hospital.

To know about your skin type click here and check out this article for best sunscreen at Nykaa.

I hope you like reading this article and would be able to find the right one you. Do let me know your views about this article in the comments or here.

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