Soak up the sun

Head­ing out to the great out­doors? VARUN KATYAL tells you ev­ery­thing you need to know about your sun­screen.

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How do I know what SPF is ap­pro­pri­ate for me? Does it de­pend on my skin tone?

SPF or Sun Pro­tec­tion Fac­tor refers to the amount of time you can stay out in the sun with­out get­ting tanned or sun­burnt. For in­stance, an SPF of 10 will al­low you to stay out 10 times longer than you can with­out sun pro­tec­tion. A higher SPF blocks out more rays — while a sun­screen with an SPF of 15 fil­ters out 93 per cent of rays, a prod­uct with an SPF of 30 fil­ters out ap­prox­i­mately 97 per cent of UV rays. On a reg­u­lar ba­sis, you should choose an SPF be­tween 15 and 30 and look for a PA++ or PA+++ rank­ings, which re­fer to the amount of pro­tec­tion the sun­screen of­fers from the UVA rays. You may also opt for a higher SPF if you’re fairskinned or un­der the sun for long hours.

Sun­screen prod­ucts in­clude lotions, creams and sprays. Which one should I opt for?

While creams and lotions work best for in­di­vid­u­als with dry skin, gels are suit­able for oily skin. Sprays are con­ve­nient, feel good on the skin and can be eas­ily used for all other body parts such as your back. Creams typ­i­cally yield a thicker ap­pli­ca­tion than lotions and can be ap­plied on the face. More than the tex­ture, make sure you pick the prod­uct that suits your skin type.

How many times do I need to reap­ply the sun­screen?

The ef­fec­tive­ness of the sun­block is washed off when ex­posed to wa­ter or sweat, leav­ing parts of your skin vul­ner­a­ble to UV rays. Slather the prod­uct evenly on parts of your body that are ex­posed 30 min­utes be­fore you step out and reap­ply ev­ery two hours.

In what quan­ti­ties do I need to ap­ply the prod­uct?

Your skin is ef­fec­tively pro­tected if a 2 mg/cm2 layer of sun­screen has been ap­plied. This lit­er­ally means around 1/2 tea­spoon (~3ml) to each arm, face and neck area. One ounce, which is enough to fill a shot glass, is usu­ally con­sid­ered the amount needed to evenly cover the ex­posed ar­eas of the body.

How im­por­tant is it to re­move the sun­screen be­fore go­ing to bed?

While chemical-based sun­screens will lose their ef­fec­tive­ness af­ter be­ing bro­ken down by the sun over time, ac­tiv­i­ties such as swim­ming, tow­el­ing and sweat­ing will also fa­cil­i­tate its re­moval. Clean your face thor­oughly with warm wa­ter be­fore hit­ting the sack to re­move the last traces of the prod­uct from your skin.

Could you list the best sun­screens avail­able in the mar­ket?

Pop­u­lar brands such as Lakmé, Lo­tus, Nivea, Shah­naz Hus­sain and Neu­tro­gena have launched sun pro­tec­tion creams, which suit the In­dian skin. You could very well choose the one that suits your skin type. You can also try fair­ness and BB creams that are in­fused with sun block­ing prop­er­ties.

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