It’s no secret that a lot of women want fairer, brighter, and glowing skin. Some people go all-out and try all kinds of lotions, creams, soaps, and makeup with SPF to achieve it. But the truth is, the sunscreen and sunblock you wear may not be enough.
The sunlight that reaches us is made up of two types of harmful rays—the long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB). In fact, 90-95% of solar radiation on earth are UVA rays. These rays penetrate deeper into our skin and causes skin darkening. The remaining 5-10% are UVB, the rays with a higher energy level which damages the superficial layers of your skin and leaves you with a painful sunburn.
UVA penetrates deeper into the skin than UVB, and will cause immediate suntan, not sunburn. UVA also generates free radicals in living skin, which contribute to skin damage, wrinkling, and skin cancer.
Apart from that, both UVA and UVB trigger the premature aging of skin. That’s why some people see wrinkles and experience sagging skin in as early as their mid-twenties to early thirties. Worse, these harmful rays can lead to skin cancer. With those being said, you need a significant protection from both types of UV rays.
The SPF in your skincare products stands for sun protection factor. It only measures the product’s ability to filter UVB rays. A lotion with SPF 15 can screen 93% of the sun’s UVB rays, the one with SPF 30 filters up to 97%, and SPF 50, 98%.
Just because a sunscreen has a high SPF does not necessarily mean that you are being protected from damaging UVA rays. SPF is only a measure of how well a sunscreen protects you from sunburn, which you get only from UVB rays. UVA (ultraviolet-A) is a longer wavelength of sunlight that makes up 95% of all UV light reaching the earth’s surface. It passes right through clouds and glass, and it is pretty much the same strength throughout the day and the year.
Therefore it is advisable to choose topical sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
It is also advisable to reapply topical sun screen every 2 hours to ensure sufficient coverage.
Solely depending on topical sun screen may present the following inconveniences:
– Even if well applied, topical sun screen may not be able to neutralize all the free radicals that may continue to damage the skin.
– Not all areas are well covered (ears, neck and nose).
– Topical sun screen needs to apply as early as 30 minutes before exposure and it needs to be reapply frequently (every 2-3 hours) to ensure sufficient coverage.
– Some sun screen may not cover UVA rays.
– Loss of effectiveness is due to perspiration, coming into contact with water, clothing, towels etc.
For more comprehensive photoprotection, one should use topical broad-spectrum sun screen that covers both UVA and UVB. At the same time, consider taking oral supplement with strong antioxidant properties to fight free radicals, especially over those generated by solar radiation. These free radicals produced by the sun are responsible for cell damage, blemishes and cutaneous photoaging.