Sunny side up

Updated: Apr 30 2006, 05:33am hrs
This ones for all for those who use sunscreens and even for those who dont. With the sunny side up, premature wrinkling, freckles, and sunburns are a nightmare for most Indians. However, the multitude of sunscreen products lotions, face wash gels, even soaps on the shelves makes it imperative to be an informed consumer.

UVB (ultraviolet B light) radiation affects the outer layer of skin and causes suntans and sunburns. UVA, on the other hand, penetrates deeper into the skin and causes tissue damage. Sunscreen ingredients can be divided into compounds that physically block radiation and those that absorb radiation. SPF (sunscreen protection factor) in sunscreens blocks the UVB rays. It means that it will protect your skin 15 times longer than if you had no sunscreen. A minimum SPF of 15 must be used. Also, its just as important to look for UVA protection, says Dr Nikhil Sharma, consultant dermatologist, Fortis Jessaram.

Not many know that sunscreen should be reapplied after three hours if you continue to be out in the sun. Dr Ajita Bagai, dermatologist, Max Hospital, adds, A minimum SPF of 20-25 is ideal. Go for medicated sunscreens with ingredients like avobenzone, titanium dioxide, parsol and zinc oxide. Face washes which claim to help as sunscreens dont really work.

Asian womens phototypes, primarily phototypes III and IV, are characterised with easy skin darkening and tendency to develop brown spots.

Dr Apratim Goel, consulting dermatologist, LOreal Paris, gives reason for optimism, Please remember that no sunscreen is 100% safe and also sunrays are not 100% dangerous.

The sun does have some beneficial effects as well. The bottom line is: Dont be paranoid about the sun. Expose yourself in moderation. Sun rays help form the best form of vitamin D in our skin which further boosts our body immunity. Sunscreens should be applied at least 30 minutes prior to exposure and additional cosmetics can be used over these also.