Why is Sunscreen the most essential skincare all year round?
The weather is changing, and it seems that winter is finally taking over. Gone are the days when you had to put on layers and layers of sunscreen and protect every inch of your skin that might get exposed to the sun. or so you thought.
Well, we’re not telling you to put on a ton of sunscreen (even in summer, you just need a little bit, what matters is choosing the right sunscreen). But we sure are telling you this: wearing sunscreen all year round is an absolutely necessary part of your skincare routine. So yes, no skipping sunscreen for the rest of the winter.
Let us start with understanding what sunlight does to your skin.
Sunlight is both beneficial and harmful to the skin. Rays of sunlight are called ultraviolet (UV) rays. Different types of UV rays are UVA, UVB and UVC. Out of these three, UVA rays are the most common form in the spectrum. UVB is somewhat lesser in exposure, but it is more intense. UVC is blocked before they reach us, thanks to the earth’s ozone layer.
Though invisible, UV rays can penetrate the epidermis. When they enter the epidermis, they reach the pigment melanin, which creates Vitamin D for the body. Melanin also defends the body against the harmful effects of UV rays. Thus, it turns your skin darker in the process. When sunlight penetrates further, it can reach the inner layers of the skin, causing damage there, such as sunburn. A sunburn can look something like excessive redness on the face due to increased blood flow. Skin can also develop blisters, get dehydrated and itchy.
UV rays can also cause cancer. Many studies indicate that basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma have been observed in areas which were exposed to the sun for a long time. Though these cancers can be cured if detected early and treated properly.
Harmful effects of UVB and UVA exposure
As mentioned earlier, UVB is a more intense form of radiation. It can penetrate the epidermis easily and cause suntan, sunburn and even blisters. It is true that when the sun’s rays are strongest, that is, in the afternoon, UVB (and, for that matter, UVA) cause the maximum damage. However, UVB rays can harm the skin cells at any time of the year.
On the other hand, UVA is the leading cause of tanning of the skin. The wavelengths of UVA, which are shorter, can also cause sunburn. You must have seen it trending on social media or otherwise that many people like getting tanned as they like the dusky tanned texture of the skin. Well, even if it does look appealing to some people, any kind of tanning does more harm than good to the skin. A healthy tan is a myth, and exposing your skin to UVA radiation to tan skin can lead to the development of skin cancer, something you’d probably want to avoid.
For a long time, sunscreens contained ingredients that provided protection only against UVB radiation. As more research surfaced proving the harmful effects of UVA, sunscreen manufacturers started adding ingredients that protected against these rays as well. Thus the term broad spectrum sunscreen emerged as it was meant to protect the skin against a range of wavelengths from both types of radiation.
UVA constitutes 95 per cent of the UV radiation that reaches the earth’s surface. It can penetrate windows and clouds, even if we feel that rays get blocked when obstructed by something. Thus, even if you are indoors, you should not skip sunscreen. UVA is less intense but penetrates the skin deeper than UVB. The skin tries to protect itself by turning it darker. UVA also causes the skin to age faster.
The easiest way to beat sunburn, premature ageing and skin cancer is to apply sunscreen. Seriously, it is as simple as that. Even on cloudy days or days with low sunlight, our skin can still get harmed by the UVA and UVB rays which can slyly penetrate obstructions in its way to reach us. But so many people find it hard to include it in their skincare routine. However, once you understand what exactly a sunscreen is and how it works, it will become your holy grail skincare ritual for everyday.
What is sunscreen?
A sunscreen is a skin protectant that blocks the UV radiation from getting absorbed in the skin. Although there is no sunscreen that is capable of blocking 100% radiation. But it does help your skin sustain the majority of damage from rays. And that is all you need to maintain optimum health of the skin.
As mentioned before, a broad spectrum sunscreen helps to block both UVA and UVB rays. It is recommended to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen for all-round protection of the skin.
What is SPF?
SPF or sun protection factor denotes how well a sunscreen can protect against the harmful UV rays. In other words, higher the SPF factor, higher the percentage of UVB rays it can block. To put it in perspective, if your sunscreen is labelled SPF 30, it can block about 97 percent of UVB rays. A sunscreen having SPF 50 blocks out about 98 percent of UVB rays. Thus, opt for a sunscreen having SPF 30 or above.
Using a broad spectrum sunscreen will take care of blocking out the UVA rays as well. Additionally, a sunscreen that is water resistant can help in times when you are sweating in hot summer days or while exercising.
What are the different types of sunscreens?
Type of sunscreen depends on its ingredients. Based on that, there are two major types of sunscreens- physical and chemical.
A sunscreen that is physical in nature contains zinc or titanium dioxide which reflect or scatter UV rays. It is also called natural or mineral sunscreen. Being thick in consistency, it may leave a white cast after application. On the flipside, a sunscreen that is chemical in nature absorbs the rays. It contains many absorbing ingredients, which get absorbed in the epidermis and convert UV rays into energy so that the skin is protected.
Any broad spectrum sunscreen is physical in nature due to its scattering properties. Chemical sunscreens do contain physical sunscreen properties, which make them a good fit as well.
Though, they are less thick in consistency than the physical ones and are preferred for protecting the face. Since chemical sunscreens take time to get absorbed in the skin, they need to be applied at least 20 to 30 minutes prior to going out.
If you have sensitive skin, it is recommended to apply a physical or mineral based sunscreen. It is due to the fact that this type of sunscreen contains milder ingredients which do not generally react badly on the skin. For other types of skin, you can very well apply a chemical sunscreen. Since they do not leave a white cast, they can be applied on darker tones as well.
How many times do you need to apply sunscreen in a day?
Any sunscreen is active for 3 hours at best. Additionally, it comes off when you sweat.
Thus, reapplying it every 3 hours or so is preferred. Even on cloudy days, UV rays diffuse and reach your skin. So, reapplying cannot be missed even on days with low sunlight.
Reapplying comes in handy especially if you go out often. Do try to ensure that you avoid direct exposure to sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. as the sun’s rays are strongest in those hours. Additionally, you can protect your skin by wearing long sleeved clothes, a wide hat and shades. And don't worry about not getting enough Vitamin D. Soaking in the sun is not a necessity for it. You can get your fill of Vitamin D by maintaining a balanced diet and opting for supplements as well.
Natural sunscreen: Are they effective?
While zinc and titanium dioxide present in physical sunscreen are naturally derived minerals, nature is brimming with options other than these. Two of the most potent natural sunscreen ingredients are aloe vera and coconut oil. Applying them not only protects your skin from sun damage, but also moisturises and replenishes your skin naturally, making them glow from within. This is the safest way to bypass any side effect that might be caused due to artificially manufactured sunscreens.
Aloe Vera: Gel of the aloe vera plant has natural UV resistance properties. It also helps soothe the skin after a sunburn. Although it is not enough in itself, it does help in blocking up to 20% of sun rays. Formulations containing aloe vera can provide protection equivalent to SPF 30. An excellent product containing the goodness of aloe vera gel is the Ageless Face Serum by Kzen. Enriched with antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C, this serum helps in making the skin look youthful and healthier. UV rays cause free radicals to react with skin and damage cells, leading to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Being a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C helps in countering this oxidative reaction caused by UV rays on the skin, thus providing additional protection against sun's rays. It diminishes fine lines, pigmentation and boosts skin’s moisturiser. Addition of aloe vera in this serum is a cherry on top as it provides protection against UV exposure and also fades hyperpigmentation caused due to overexposure of sunlight.
Another superb product by Kzen is their Firm Skin Body Lotion. It contains not just aloe vera, but Nutmeg oil, Clove oil, Sunflower oil and Glycerine as well. This body lotion nourishes, softens and adds glow to the skin. Its nourishing properties along with the ability of aloe vera to protect against UV rays makes it the perfect concoction for the body’s optimum health.
Coconut oil: This is one of the most moisturising and nourishing oils in the beauty sector. It is capable of blocking 20% of sun rays reaching your skin. This is good enough protection if you wish to stay out for a few hours. Additionally, when used on the lips, it protects and moistens it effectively. Since the skin of your lips is thinner than the rest of your face, it gets dried out and darkened sooner. Hence, coconut oil works wonders in providing optimum protection to them, keeping them supple, soft and protected. Kzen’s Zen Lips Cocoa Vanilla does exactly that. It comes with the goodness of coconut oil, cocoa butter and vanilla essential oil. It heals chapped lips and adds a protective barrier to skin to help it retain moisture for long while blocking the UV rays.
Kzen believes in helping the skin stay moisturised, healed and protected naturally. Our products are vegan, paraben free, sulphate free and rid of harsh chemicals. We have the perfect natural solution for all your skin concerns. Check out our wide range of sustainable skincare products and keep your skin healthy in the most natural way.