Summers are coming but this doesn’t mean you have to stay in. If you follow good skincare routines that give you maximum sun protection, you have nothing to fear! We breakdown some common sunscreen ingredients and what they do for you.

sunscreen ingredients breakdown

What are UVA and UVB rays?

They are both harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun that can cause serious damage to your skin. UVA rays lead to premature aging and wrinkles. This penetrates deeper into skin than UVB rays. UVB rays are what cause sunburn. UVB rays are the major contributor to skin cancer, while UVA rays can also play a part in it.

How can you protect yourself against it?

It is very important to use the right sunscreen. How do you decide if it is right?

A sunscreen needs to contain active ingredients that protect against both kinds of ultraviolet rays – UVA and UVB. These types of sunscreens are called ‘broad spectrum sunscreens’.  The ingredients can either by physical blocks or chemical absorbers.

Physical Blocks: These create a physical barrier between your skin and harmful rays. Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide are active ingredients that should be present in your sunscreen. However, just being present on the list of ingredients is not enough, the quantity of these needs to be atleast 25% to be effective.

Chemical Absorbers: These ingredients help in absorbing the harmful sun rays so your skin doesn’t. Common ingredients include oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate and octinoxate.

  • Sensitive skin types should skip sunscreen with oxybenzone

There are a variety of other ingredients that can be present in sunscreen based on how it is marketed – towards children or sports; and may contain fragrances or preservatives. If you’re facing issues like sunburns or sunspots despite using sunscreen everyday, we suggest that you consult your doctor.

What is SPF in sunscreen? How much SPF do I need?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. It measures the protection against UVB rays.

Sunscreens try to market themselves as offering more protection with outrageous SPF numbers, sometimes over a 100. The truth is that an SPF 15 blocks 94% of harmful UVB rays. If you get an SPF 30, it blocks 97%. You only get incremental improvement even though it is marketed as double the protection. For daily use, SPF 30 is enough, as recommended by American Academy of Dermatology Association.

However, you still need protection from UVA rays so make sure to go for a broad spectrum sunscreen. There are 500 times for UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays. Ingredients like Mexoryl SX and Avobenzone are present in traditional chemical sunscreens which when present together, enhance protection against UVA. However, we recommend a physical sunscreen for better protection.

How to apply sunscreen properly – when and how much?

Sunscreen needs to be applied on dry skin, atleast 15 minutes before you leave the house. It is not just for the face, but any exposed part of your body. It is very important to not forget your neck or hands because these are the first spots that start showing signs of aging after the face.

How much sunscreen to apply? You will be told to apply liberal amounts, a nickel sized amount, a shot glass sized amount – but what do these mean? For a more realistic understanding of how much is right, just start by applying an even layer all over your face the same way you would apply concealer. Then massage this into the skin. If you plan to spend the whole day outside, apply another thin layer. Do the same in all other exposed areas of your body.

What else can I do to protect myself from the sun?

While sunscreen is necessary, we also recommend that you wear clothes that offer sun protection such as hats and scarves during the summer as well as wear sunglasses.


Are you suffering from sun-damage? Check out our list of services and book an appointment with us to get a skin diagnosis.

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