Yes, as an Indian, your ancestors did stay out under the same sun for the whole day, never touched a drop of sunscreen in their lives and yet did not die of skin cancer.
But that doesn’t mean that you also don’t need to use sunscreens. They didn’t live in air conditioning as much as you do. Also, the atmosphere didn’t have these many ozone holes and pollutants then.
If you love your skin, do them a favour and start using sunscreens now.
To identify the right sunscreen for your needs, try putting yourself in one of these categories
1. Heavy exposure out in the sun, like playing sports, or visiting a monument, or shopping out in an open market.
2. Just commuting from one place to another, inside a car.
3. Going out for a social function or a business meeting.
In addition to the above use cases, your skin type – oily, dry, sensitive, acne prone etc is going to be an important factor in deciding which one is the best for you.
Now, let’s get started.
What is the most important thing in sunscreens?
Answer is SPF, short for Sun Protection Factor. This literally means how powerful the sunscreen is. You will see products with labels of SPF 15, 30 and 50.
SPF 50 provides the most protection against sun radiation. SPF 30 is weaker and those with 15 are the weakest.
So, if you are going to stay out in the sun for long hours, like playing a sport, you can’t afford to go lower than SPF50.
However, with great power, comes great thickness.
Higher SPF products tend to be more thicker than lower ones. Meaning, it will feel heavy and would be visible on your face. It might form a white coating on your skin. This is particularly more visible on people with darker skin shades.
So, if you are going out for a social occasion or a meeting, you will have to wipe it off, once you have reached your destination. Or you can go for lighter SPF 30 or 15 sunscreens.
Now, for those who are going to apply makeup. Well, choose SPF 15 based sunscreens. Otherwise the sunscreen is going to affect your final look, not in a good way.
What is a Broad Spectrum Sunscreen?
This is a term you will find on many sunscreens. Ideally, you should only use sunscreens which are broad spectrum. This means that they protect from both UV-A & UV-B radiations. Typically, UV-B is much more dangerous and most sunscreens were formulated for just the UV-B protection. But it’s always better to find one which protects from both. Broad spectrum sunscreens come in every SPF rating.
Creams, Gels or Lotion?
Most sunscreens available in India right now come as either cream, gels or lotions. There is a very limited supply of sunscreen sprays. The Aveene sunscreen spray is the only valid option. Both WoW and Lotus sunscreen sprays are essentially watered down lotion which needs to be massaged like any other lotion.
✓ If you have oily skin, go for gels or thin lotions.
✓ People with dry skin should go with creams.
✓ If you want to apply makeup, go with gels.