Sunscreens are the chemical agents that are widely used to alter the dubious effects of UV rays on our skin. Apart from chemical sunscreens there are various other measures such as proper clothing which provides excellent photoprotection to our skin, hats;a broad-brimmed hat or an umbrella protects the skin especially the face from UV radiations and a simple makeup such as a foundations that have a photoprotection effect which lasts for 2-3 hours, but such measures are less commonly applicable because of changing lifestyle and petite dressing trends.

At the present time, the role of chemical sunscreens are of utmost importance to protect our skin and a call of attention should be initiated very early from school days. Ideally, the efficacy of sunscreens is measured by what is commonly known as SPF. It is a numerical rating system that indicated the degree of protection provided in a particular sun care product. Ideally, SPF 15 gives 94% protection from UVB radiations and SPF 30% provides more than 97% protection. For day to day activities sunscreen with SPF 30 is sufficient to protect our skin from UV radiations. Apart from the protective efficacy of sunscreens, the other determinant of its efficacy is its stickiness or adhesive quality, which means the capacity of sunscreen to withstand adverse conditions like exposure to water and sweat. So distant from normal sunscreens there is sunscreen which is water resistant used for swimming or other sports activities.

An ideal sunscreen should have the following qualities:

  • Broad-spectrum coverage protection against UVB (290 – 320 nm) and UVA (320- 400 nm) radiation wavelengths to provide protection from both sunburn and skin tanning.
  • Combination of both physical and chemical blockers to reflect back and scatter the UV radiations and equally absorb the radiations and prevent them to enter the skin cells.·  
  • Cosmetically elegant which suits a need for a particular skin type such as light or dark skin, oily skin or dry skin.
  • Non-irritant to suit the needs of sensitive skin.  
  • Non-comedogenic to cater the requirement for acne-prone skin.

Irrespective of sex, age or type of skin sunscreens are required to protect our skin from the deleterious effect of UV radiations. Sunscreen is advised, recommended and safe to use from children’s above 6 months of age to geriatric. Statics across the globe has shown that the incidence of some malignant conditions of skin like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma are at rising due to cumulative sun radiations, reduced ozone layer and fair skin. It is very high in countries near equator like Australia and New Zealand. Other non-malignant and common conditions associated with lack of sun protection measures are skin tanning, premature aging, sunburns, wrinkles and lines over the face especially around the eyes and forehead more commonly in people living at higher altitudes, solar lentigines, actinic keratosis, phototoxic reactions, UV radiations accentuates pigmentation like melasma and freckles, it can turn simple mole into malignant cancers. Studies have shown that children who are not adequately protected from the sun have an increased risk of developing skin cancers later in life.

Practical tips:

  • Sunscreens are recommended for all age group male /female and children above 6 months of age.
  • Use sunscreen daily twice or at least once in morning 10 minutes before stepping out from home.
  • Use sunscreen in all weather conditions either sunny or cloudy to prevent from both UVA which gives photo ageing and tanning to skin and UVB radiations to prevent sun damage to superficial layers of skin epidermis.
  • Sunscreens are in form of creams suitable for normal skin and dry skin, gel form for oily and acne prone skin and lotions for widebody application.
  • Recent and new Sunscreens are designed for women with tinted texture to camouflage uneven skin conditions and others have compact base suitable for women and no makeup base is required.
  • Always use sunscreen first and then makeup on top of it.
  • Ask your dermatologist for water-resistant for beach holiday vacations or outdoor swimming activities.