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7 Smart Sunscreen Rules

Too much sun exposure? Follow these 7 Smart Sunscreen Rules

Whether you’re packing your bags to lie on another sun-stroked beach or you’re simply out and about, you need sun protection! And it’s not as complicated as you might have thought. After all, the estimated amount of visible skin-ageing signs that is caused by sun exposure is now hitting the 80% mark!


20 Mins – Wait this long, after applying sunscreen, before stepping out into the sun, to allow the sunscreen to stabilise on your skin.

40 Mins – The amount of time that sunscreens labelled ‘water resistant’ maintain their sun protecting properties – even when submerged in water.

120 Mins – How long you can go before sunscreen needs to be reapplied if you’re outdoors under direct sunlight.


How much sunscreen do you need?

“The equivalent of a shot glass (or two tablespoons) of sunscreen to the exposed areas of the face and body,” advises Dr Elizabeth K. Hale, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, NYU Langone Medical Center. “Remember that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently after swimming, heavy perspiration, or towelling off,” cautions Dr Hale. “A nickel-sized dollop for your face alone,” says Dr Hale. This translates to about the size of a $0.20 cent coin.


Let’s talk specifics

What Is SPF?

SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor”, which indicates a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB damage to skin. UVB rays causes accelerated melanin production and skin burning. For example, if it takes your unprotected skin 20 minutes to start turning red in the sun, using an SPF 30 sunscreen theoretically means your skin won’t start to burn in 30 x 20 minutes = 10 hours. However, no sunscreen clings onto your skin over prolonged periods of time, so always reapply. 


What about UVA Rays?

Another component of UV rays, UVA rays penetrate deeper into skin and damages support tissues like collagen, causing signs of ageing like wrinkles and sagging. To check if your sunscreen provides UVA protection, look out for either a “PA” or “broad spectrum protection” indication. And a PA++++ (the highest yet) provides better protection than a product that’s PA++.


When Is Sunscreen Needed

Whether you’re out in the sun all day or it’s just a regular day at the office, “the best way to prevent early skin ageing is to avoid sunlight and use a broad spectrum sunscreen daily”, stresses Dr Pang Shiu Ming, Director and Senior Consultant, Department of Dermatology, Singapore General Hospital. And just because its rainy and gloomy doesn’t mean you can skip sunscreen; up to 80% of UV rays can still penetrate clouds. Bear in mind that your skin is also exposed to UV rays that are reflected by the ground; sand reflects about 20% of rays. Don’t neglect areas like your ears, the back of your neck and hands. And protect your tresses from looking dull with a product that contains UV filters, especially if you aren’t wearing a hat! 


What Are UV Filters?

Generally classified into two types: Chemical filters ‘absorb’ and converts UV rays to safer energy by the time it reaches our skin while physical filters ‘reflect’ UV rays. Different UV filters (chemical or physical) tend to be effective against different wavelengths of UV light so most sunscreens contain a mixture of filters to give you broad spectrum protection. Some people who have very sensitive and allergy-prone skin might prefer a sunscreen with less chemical filters and more physical filters like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide.


What Are Micronised Particles?

Traditionally, while Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are extremely photo stable, formulas that contain them usually leave a white cast behind. Fast forward to present day and you’ll find that most sunscreens that contain these physical filters have an invisible finish and feel super lightweight. This is the result of new micro technology which makes particle size super fine so these sunscreens not only provide optimal protection, but are also a pleasure to apply.


Ready to buy? Read this first!


By Joyce Cheo, Singapore Women’s Weekly, June 2014

Photo: 123rf.com

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