Scorching sun, soaring temperature and wilting energy makes us all want to just stay indoors under the cool blast from air-conditioners. When we do venture out into the sun, the best bet is to apply sunscreen liberally. Exposure to Ultra Violet A (UVA) and Ultra Violet B (UVB) rays is always harmful, only that its intensity tends to be greater under the summer sun.
The damage from these UV rays may be obvious right away in the form of a tan or sunburn, but they can lead a range of problems, from wrinkles to skin cancer, caution doctors.
Though many people are savvy to the importance of applying sunscreen, the sheer number of lotions, sprays and the ingredients in them can often confuse users. Most sunscreens on the market offer broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays, but their Sun Protection Factor (SPF) values can range widely, from 2 to 100.
The SPF number indicates how many more minutes the sunscreen will allow someone to remain in the sun without getting burned than if they had no protection on their skin. What people do not realize is that SPF is really a personal number that depends on skin type. The amount of protection that one person gets from an SPF 30 is different than what someone else with a different skin type would get. So what SPF should you use?
Doctors recommend that most people should apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 and a maximum of 55. It has been shown that lotions with SPF higher than 60 have diminishing returns and paying higher price for a higher SPF number may lead to a false sense of security.
The important aspect about sunscreens is applying them properly. It needs to be applied about 15 minutes before we venture out and has to be reapplied every two hours, especially we are out at the beach and after swimming, in order to work correctly. If you pay a lot of money for a sunscreen and then use it sparingly, you are not really getting the SPF you think.
Those who would rather not apply sunscreen to their skin can opt for UV clothing, which is now available at many mass retailers and sporting goods stores. A regular white T-shirt has an SPF of 3 but UV clothing is rated between SPF 30 and SPF 50. Unlike sunscreen that wears off and needs to be reapplied, UV clothes will protect people from the sun as long as they are wearing them.