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How to Choose Sunscreen this Summer: A Complete Guide for Every Skin

By Seema Mahajan May 14, 2024

As we embrace the sunny days of summer, it’s essential to shield our skin from the harmful UV rays. Choosing the right sunscreen is more than just picking a bottle off the shelf; it’s about selecting a formula that suits your skin type and tone, ensuring optimal protection without sacrificing comfort. In this blog, we'll guide you through choosing the perfect sunscreen, highlighting the importance of sun protection for long-term skin health.

The Crucial Role of Sun Protection

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can lead to a plethora of skin issues, from skin tanning, sunburns, and pigmentation to premature aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Scientific research highlights the importance of daily sunscreen application as a preventive measure. Tailoring sunscreen to your specific skin needs enhances its protective barrier against both immediate and long-term damage.

Sunscreen for Every Skin Type

  • Oily Skin: Opt for SPF 30+ and PA++ or higher with lightweight, non-comedogenic formulas to prevent excess shine and pore blockage.
  • Dry Skin: SPF 30+ and PA+++ sunscreens with cream bases and hydrating ingredients such as Ectoin or Hyaluronic acid or Glycerine will protect and moisturize.
  • Combination Skin: SPF 30+ and PA++ or higher in lightweight lotions work well to balance moisture levels without adding oiliness.
  • Sensitive Skin: Choose SPF 30+ and PA+++ or higher in mineral-based products to minimize irritation.
  • Acne-Prone Skin: Non-comedogenic formulas with SPF 30+ and PA++ or higher will protect without worsening acne.

 

Considering Your Skin Tone

While skin type is crucial in choosing the right product, considering your skin tone is equally important, especially in terms of the sunscreen's formulation and its potential white cast: 

  • Lighter Skin Tones: opt for sunscreens with at least SPF 50 and PA++++ for high susceptibility to UV damage.
  • Medium Skin Tones: Sunscreens that don’t leave a white cast or tint are preferable; these should provide broad-spectrum protection and SPF 40 or higher and PA++++, protecting against burns and pigmentation.
  • Darker Skin Tones: opt for transparent sunscreens offering broad-spectrum protection to guard against both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays. At least SPF 30+ and PA+++ are necessary to ensure defence against subtle damage and hyperpigmentation.

SPF and PA: What You Need to Know

SPF measures protection against UVB rays responsible for sunburn. The PA rating system measures protection against UVA rays, crucial for preventing skin aging and deeper skin damage:

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) measures protection against UVB rays responsible for sunburn. 

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, 
  • SPF 30 block approximately 97%, of UVB rays.
  • SPF 40 block approximately 97.5% of UVB rays. 
  • SPF 50 block 98% of UVB rays.
  • SPF 100 blocks 99% of UVB rays.

 

PA stands for Protection Grade of UVA. The PA rating system measures protection against UVA rays, crucial for preventing skin aging and deeper skin damage:

  • PA + has the ability to block UVA rays at 40-50%
  • PA++ is better at blocking UVA rays, at 60-70%
  • PA+++: Good UVA protection, up to 90%
  • PA++++: Very good UVA protection, up to over 95%. 

 

So always choose a Broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA & UVB rays.

Adapting Sunscreen Use to Environmental Factors

To ensure optimal sun protection, it's important to adjust your sunscreen based on the activities you're planning and the current UV conditions:

  • Activity-Based SPF Adjustment: For activities that involve prolonged exposure to the sun, such as hiking, playing sports, or spending a day at the beach, it's advisable to use a sunscreen with a higher SPF. Higher SPF is crucial for prolonged outdoor exposure, while lower SPF may suffice indoors and brief outings. 

 

  • UV Index Awareness: Check the UV Index daily and Adjust your SPF based on UV Index. The higher the UV index, the shorter the time it takes for the sun to damage your skin. So, on high UV days, increase your sunscreen's SPF to better protect against strong ultraviolet radiation.

 

Additional Considerations While Selecting an Ideal Sunscreen:

Apart from considering a broad-spectrum sunscreen, here are some additional parameters that should be considered while selecting an ideal sunscreen:

  • Blue Light Protection: To shield your skin from the blue light emitted by electronic devices, which can contribute to skin aging.
  • Non-comedogenic: Ensures that the sunscreen won't clog pores, essential for acne-prone and oily skin types.
  • Hypoallergenic: Reduces the risk of allergic reactions, ideal for sensitive skin types.
  • Water and Sweat Resistance: For activities involving water or extensive sweating, choose a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply every two hours.
  • Free from Harmful Chemicals: Look for sunscreens that are free from Paraben and Oxybenzone to ensure a healthier skincare routine.

Tips for Summer Sun Care

  • Apply Generously: A good rule of thumb is approximately 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon or 1-2 grams/ml to cover the face and neck area thoroughly.
  • Reapply Regularly: Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating extensively.
  • Don’t Forget Hard to Reach and Easily Forgotten Areas: Ears, and the back of the neck are commonly missed spots that need protection. 

Making Sunscreen a Daily Habit 

Regardless of the season or weather, UV rays can penetrate clouds and windows, making daily sunscreen application essential. Integrating sunscreen into your morning routine protects your skin, keeping it healthy and youthful. 

Embracing the Summer with the Right Sunscreen 

Choosing the right sunscreen is essential for your daily skincare routine. By selecting a product that matches your skin type, skin tone and offers broad-spectrum protection, you not only prevent sunburn but also protect against long-term damage and skin cancer. The best sunscreen is one you'll use regularly, so find your perfect match and make it a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. Enjoy your summer safely and in style!

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