Summer is around the corner and many guys and gals are found spending time in the sun protection aisles of big stores because it’s the natural order of things – the moment you ditch your spring jacket and jeans, sunscreen is on. But do you know what sunscreen factor actually means and how to choose the right product? Don’t worry, we offer a breakdown of all the important factors regarding sun protection. Before you put a sunscreen lotion on your shopping list, make sure to check it out.
As far as sunscreen is concerned, ultraviolet light is divided into two categories – UVA and UVB rays. The former penetrate deeply into the skin and can cause premature aging and wrinkles, whereas the latter are the main culprits for sunburn.
According to scientists, the sun protection factor, SPF, is designed to protect our skin from sunburn, which is caused by the ultraviolet B rays. The numbers of SPF were first presented in 1962 and they generally point out how much time you can spend in the sun before its damaging effects hit you. Basically, what researchers do is they measure the UV ray amount sun-sensitive individuals take to burn when exposed to full sun without wearing any sun protection. After that they have these people put on sunscreen and redo the tests. The SPF is then determined by dividing the results that were yielded when the individuals were wearing sun protection by the results they obtained when the people were not sun protected at all.
Put simply, this is how you can calculate the maximum time you can expose yourself to full sun: SPF number x minutes before you begin to burn.
Hypothetically, if your unprotected skin would start to burn after being exposed to sun for, say, ten minutes, then a sunscreen with SPF15 would be able to protect it for 150 minutes before you would get a sunburn. But that’s only hypothetically. In real life, the amount of sunscreen you use is not enough (usually about 50% less than the recommended amount), as compared to the amount they use in laboratories to carry out their tests, which degrades the quality of the product you are using. In most cases, you only have half the time you calculated.
This is where reapplication comes in. Scientists recommend that you reapply your sunscreen every couple of hours when out in the open to get maximum protection from the sun. No matter what SPF you are wearing, from 20 to 100, it won’t be able to block harmful UV rays without repeated application. Note that adding on more sunscreen does not increase the time you can spend in full sun. It just ensures that what has worn off is replaced by a new layer of protection to keep you safe while on the go. Also, you need to give it 30 minutes’ time to absorb into your skin for optimum protection.
How Sunscreen Works
No matter if you choose a sunscreen wax, gel, lotion or spray, chances are it will be made of various chemicals, the purpose of which is to either absorb or block sun rays so that your skin doesn’t have to handle them on its own. There are two types of chemicals involved in the production of sunscreen: organic and inorganic. Organic chemicals which are carbon-based absorb the harmful ultraviolet rays with the help of their chemical bonds so that they don’t enter our bodies through the skin. They include oxybenzone and avobenzone, to name a few. Inorganic chemicals, on the other hand, serve to reflect the rays. In a word, they block the sun. The chemicals often include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Sunscreen Vs Sun Protection
Now, you might be wondering: sun protection or sunscreen? The answers is, use both. While sunscreens are designed to act as a block against harmful UVA rays, sun protection or sunblocks help protect against UVB. The best way to go is to select a sunscreen, which provides a broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. In many drugstores, you will be able to find a mixture of those two.
Why is It Necessary to Protect Against UV?
Sun radiation does cause a few changes in our skin as we grow older. It damages elastin, one of the skin’s fibers, as a result of which the skin becomes loose, takes longer to heal and is prone to creases and wrinkles. UV rays can cause:
- A Yellow discoloration
- Collagen and elastic tissue destruction, also known as elastosis
- Blood vessel dilation, also known as telangiectasias
- Mottled pigmentation
- Benign tumors
Reading this, it makes you want to instantly reach for the bottle of sunscreen. It makes sense to provide sun protection for your skin.
How Argan Oil can be put to Some Good Use
In case you haven’t heard, argan oil comes with a multitude of healthy properties. It’s nature’s way of taking care of us. Argan oil helps against premature aging by keeping the skin moisturized, supple and stretchy. It can reduce wrinkles and restore the natural glow of the skin. It also helps fade scars, break timorous cells of the skin down, treat acne, etc. In addition, it has some mild sun protection properties due to its antioxidant activity, in particular vitamin E. Researchers have found that antioxidants might come in handy in terms of sun protection. They can provide roughly an SPF of 10 depending on the amount of product applied. What is more, argan oil is so beneficial for skin that it can help heal sunburns more quickly. Massaging a few drops of oil into the affected areas can alleviate pain caused by sunburn and soothe the skin.
It is always advisable that you use a sunscreen to protect against the damaging UVA and UVB rays, however, making sure to apply cosmetic argan oil on the daily will provide extra sun protection and at the same time it will nourish your skin, keeping it looking at its best.