“I don’t go out in the sun” is a popular excuse when we are asked why we don’t use sunscreen regularly. We often think that sunscreen is unnecessary unless we go to the beach or do some outdoor activities. Even though we work or stay indoor most of the time, we still get sun’s UV (ultra-violet) rays when we drive or walk from a parking area to a building. A small period of sun exposure daily means long-term UV exposure and leads to sun-damaged skin.
Visible skin changes as a result of chronic UV exposure include wrinkles and fine lines, loss of tone and elasticity, hyperpigmentation or dark spots, skin lesions and skin cancers. In fact, studies reveal that sun’s UV rays responsible for 90% of premature skin aging cases.
There are three different types of UVs: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA penetrates the deeper layers of the skin, can penetrate glass and is related to the development of malignant melanoma. UVB is responsible for sunburn and tanning, linked to actinic keratosis, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and melanoma. UVC doesn’t cause harm to our skin yet, as it is mostly absorbed in the ozone layer. However, the UVC might become future concerns due to the depletion of the ozone layer.
Sunscreens contain active ingredients that either absorb, reflect or scatter the UVs and prevent it from damaging our skin. Sunscreen is the most important skincare. In Australia, skin cancer rate is one of the highest in the world, therefore sunscreen of SPF 50+ is recommended as it provides better protection from skin damage.
In summer, sunscreen is a must. It has to be applied regularly and generously. In winter, when we are dressed in jackets, pants and boots, we still have to protect our face, neck, hands with sunscreen as the UV is still there.
We recommend to use a broad-screen sunscreen (against UVA and UVB) with a minimum of SPF 30+, or SPF 50+ in summer or if you are suffered from hyperpigmentation. It is best to apply sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure. As a morning routine, cleanse your skin then apply moisturizer, leave it for 5 minutes, then apply sunscreen and lastly your makeup. You may skip the sunscreen application if your moisturizer or foundation contains SPF, as long as they are SPF 30+.
How much sunscreen should we use and how to often should we apply it? Always apply a generous amount of sunscreen, covering all parts of body that will get sun exposure. As a guide, use the teaspoon rules. Apply more than half a teaspoon each on: face and neck, right arm, left arm. Apply more than a teaspoon each on front body/core, back, right leg, left leg. Re-apply it every 2 hours or as necessary. Remember that those amounts have to be adjusted when used for children or wider parts of the skin.
For a maximum sun protection, use wide-bream hat, sunglasses and protective clothes as well. It is also important to note that following a skin treatment it is best to avoid direct sun exposure for a few days after the procedure.
(Written by: Ria Turangan)