Anyone can develop skin problems when it is exposed to ultra-violet (UV) rays of the sun. Some people are more likely to get affected than others. Today, there are plenty of skincare products to combat the UV rays. One of the most popular being sunscreen. Earlier in 1960’s and 70’s, the product was marketed as tanning lotion with lower SPF. But improvements continued to be made, and today there are different types of sunscreen in the market.

Although sunscreens don’t offer 100 per cent protection. It should be used along with other preventive measures. Include a broad brimmed hat, UV blocking sunglasses, lighter clothing and softer shade for effective result.

When it comes to skincare, you can’t ignore it. Most people use sunscreen irrespective of the cost. But, more expensive does not mean better. Here is a guide to identify high performing sunscreen that is affordable and popular to encourage adherence to its use. Determine your skin type and appropriate SPF.

The ideal product will be a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UV-A and UV-B rays having a SPF of at least 15. It’s better to use a specifically formulated sunscreen for your face. Use a waterproof sunscreen if you are going to sweat or swim. If you are sensitive to para-amino benzoic acid (PABA), choose a sunscreen that does not contain it. Read the product label carefully before buying and be aware of expiry date, ingredients, SPF and other things that matter.

Choose a sunscreen according to your skin type:

The skin of children is sensitive. The physical sunscreen zinc oxide and titanium dioxide tend to be better tolerated by them. If you are using spray sunscreen on their skin, don’t apply it directly. It should be misted into the hands, then spread on the face.

For older people spray-on-sunscreen is a great option to avoid the trouble of applying it on legs and back. Spray should be applied until a sheen appears on the skin.

If you have a dry skin, moisturising sunscreen is best for you. They are often formulated as creams, lotions or ointments. Look for them.

For people with oily skin or skin prone to acne, use water-based sunscreens.

Dark skin rarely burns but it tans rapidly and very dark skin never burns but becomes deeply pigmented. People with darker skin should go with the newer preparations that tend to be micronised. They may need a sunscreen with lower SPF 2-10. Sunscreens with SPF of 15+ can also be opted.

Fair and very fair skin burn easily and never tans or tans minimally. For very fair people, sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ is recommended. Use daily for extra protection. Patients with a blotchy brown discoloration of the skin or those who have had skin cancer should also use it regularly to safeguard their skin.

Medium type of skin burns minimally and tans well. It needs 6-15 SPF.

If you are suffering from skin allergy or acne, avoid products containing preservatives, alcohol and fragrances as well as PABA or oxy benzene. Avoid greasy sunscreens often marketed as creams. Use light lotion.

Extended periods of sun exposure also call for a higher SPF.  

Correct application of sunscreen:

Slather on a thick layer. About one tablespoon of at least SPF 25 for face and two ounces for the body. Dot it directly on to the face. It will help in quick and effective absorption. Always put sunscreen before applying moisturiser. Use it daily before going out in the sun. You may use zinc and titanium oxide if you want to block UV rays immediately. Reapply your sunscreen every couple of hours as it becomes ineffective when exposed to sunlight for a long time.

Unprotected sun exposure can increase the risk of developing skin cancers at any age. It also cause skin aging, spots, wrinkles, sagging and leathery skin. Till now, you may have received large amounts of UV rays exposure. Still, you can start using sunscreen. Be aware and confident of the product you choose to use.