Is sunscreen required for Indian skin tone? Here’s what experts say

Dr. Annie Flora, senior consultant Dermatologist, Apollo Spectra & Apollo Cosmetics Clinic, Chennai reveals that sunscreen protects skin from photoaging, thereby slowing down aging changes.

Sunscreen, Sunscreen benefits, Indian skin tones, sunscreen types, health news, lifestyle news,
According to Dr. Shetty, there are powder sunscreens also easily available in the market now for easy touch-up. (File)

Healthy exposure to sunlight is extremely important as it helps our bodies for making Vitamin D. However, too much exposure to Ultraviolet radiation can be extremely dangerous.

According to health experts, Ultraviolet A rays (UVA) cause skin aging and eye damage and they can lower your body’s ability to fight off illness. Meanwhile, UVB rays cause sunburns, skin cancer, skin aging, and snow blindness and can lower your body’s ability to fight illness.

Doctors and health experts often emphasise the use of sunscreens to protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Sunscreens can also help in preventing sunburn and premature aging.

Do Indians needs sunscreen?

Dr. Pooja Chopra, Consultant, Dermatology, Aakash Healthcare emphasises that in India, where the climate is predominantly hot and sunny, it’s crucial to apply sunscreen every day, even if you’re not spending a lot of time outdoors.

“When choosing a sunscreen, it’s essential to look for a broad-spectrum one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It should have a minimum SPF of 30 and be water-resistant. Additionally, consider using a sunscreen that contains antioxidants like vitamin C, which can help protect the skin from environmental damage,” Dr. Chopra told Financial

According to Dr. Chopra, taking care of your skin should be a priority, and sunscreen is a crucial part of that.

Sunscreens should be used on a daily basis

Dr Prakhar Narayan Dubey, Resident MD Dermatology maintains that it is crucial for individuals with Indian skin tone to use sunscreen on a daily basis. Sunscreen is a basic and important step in a healthy skin routine as it protects our skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays, Dr. Dubey told Financial

“By applying sunscreen with an optimum range of SPF of 25-30, individuals with Indian skin tone can shield their skin from harmful UV rays. Sunscreen works by absorbing or reflecting UV radiation, preventing it from penetrating the skin’s surface,” Dr. Dubey added.

Optimum SPF range of 25-30

According to Dr. Dubey, it is recommended to use sunscreen with an optimum SPF range of 25-30 and to apply it every day, even on cloudy days, to reduce the risk of sun damage. Additionally, apply it 30 mins before going in the sun over a moisturiser.

Dr Saurabh Shah, Dermatologist at Bhatia Hospital Mumbai reveals that if your skin is oily you can use gel base sunscreen and if your skin is dry you can use a cream or a lotion anything more than SPF 50 is good for Indian skin tone and most importantly, any sunscreen only works for 2-3 hours.

“So you need to repeat applying the sunscreen every 2-3 hours. And ideally, even if you are indoors, you need not applied your sunscreen only when you are out in sun, even been in the home and staying under the ultraviolet lights of our tube lights and mobile screens and laptops. So you have to wear sunscreen even if you are at home or in the office. Unless and until you are in a pitch-dark room you are supposed to apply sunscreen irrespectively,” Dr. Shah told Financial

Dr. Shah also said that for patients who have skin pigmentation and other skin issues, you can use sunscreen with a matte finish.

“So there is a sunscreen that contains iron oxide and that sunscreen gives a matte look. So those patients if they want to hide their pigmentation or camouflage thier pigmentation, can use matte finish sunscreen which can also be used as a mild foundation base. Over that patients can use light compact and it can double up as a pre-makeup thing also,” Dr. Shah added.

Darker skin tone offers protection against UV rays

According to Dr. Madhulika Mhatre, MD, Director, Skin Saga Centre for Dermatology, Mumbai, although the darker skin tone offers some protection against harmful UV rays, regardless of skin tone, everyone must use sunscreen.

For the Indian skin tone, any sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 is good enough, Dr. Mhatre said.

“Sunscreens not only protect against tanning and skin burns but also have anti-aging benefits, prevent early wrinkling and collagen damage and protect against pigmentation,” Dr. Mhatre added.

“Yes, sunscreen is necessary for all skin tones, including Indian skin tones. Although people with darker skin have more melanin, which provides some natural sun protection, they are still at risk of sun damage and skin cancer if they don’t wear sunscreen,” Vidur Kapur, Director, O3+ Skincare told Financial

Dr. Soumya Sachdeva, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetologist and Hair Transplant Specialist at Chicnutrix revealed that Indians living in the tropics have an advantage as their darker skin, which contains more melanin, provides some protection from UV rays.

Mineral-based makeup is preferable

According to Dr. Shraddha Deshpande, Consultant – Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgeon. Wockhardt Hospitals, Mumbai Central, while our mothers have always been at it, the use of wide-brim hats, umbrellas, and sunglasses is a must when going out, especially between 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

“Sunscreens with SPF of more than 30 should be applied every 2 hours when out in the sun and even at home. The use of sunscreens should ideally start as early as 2 years of age,” Dr. Deshpande told Financial

If you are stepping out always use SPF before applying makeup. Heavy and darker shades of makeup should be avoided. Mineral-based makeup is preferable, Dr. Deshpande added.

“In India, where the sun is strong and the UV index can be high, it is especially important to wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy or rainy days. It is also important to wear protective clothing, such as hats and long sleeves, and to seek shade during the hottest part of the day to further reduce the risk of sun damage,” Kapur added.

Even though we may focus on using the latest skincare products and beauty treatments, using sunscreen is a crucial step that shouldn’t be overlooked, Dr. Sachdeva said.

Indian skin requires sunscreen of a higher SPF

Dr. Rashmi Shetty, Cosmetic Dermatologist, Ra Skin & Aesthetics – Mumbai & Hyderabad revealed that sunscreen is required for any skin tone all year-round. However, the Indian skin requires sunscreen of a higher SPF, ranging between 30 and 50.

“The sun comprises 3 types of light – UV, infrared and visible light. When we’re out and about in the sun, we tend to feel a burning sensation on the skin along with itchiness and visible redness. This is on account of your skin being exposed to the UV and infrared rays of the sun. Additionally, the UVA rays could penetrate deeper than the surface layer of the skin leading to various types of skin cancers as it causes the skin cells to mutate,” Dr. Shetty told Financial

“Therefore, I advocate a skincare practice or trend called DOUBLE SPF. As the name suggests, it is a method that involves a double-layer application of your sunscreen. Apart from this, another important practice is to reapply your sunscreen every 2-3 hours when you are on the move.”

According to Dr. Shetty, there are powder sunscreens also easily available in the market now for easy touch-up.

“Having said that, internal sunscreen is equally important. Hence, supplementation that comprises antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and hydrating properties are a must. We, at Ra, offer these in our supplements – Ra Bright, Ra Vitamin C and Ra Hydrate,” she added.

What type of sunscreen should you use?

Dr. Batul Patel, Leading Celebrity Dermatologist, Founder of The Bombay Skin Clinic told Financial that in case you have oily skin, you may consider a gel-based sunscreen or if your skin is normal to dry, a cream-based sunscreen can be used.

“Antioxidants are your best friend during the summer. Using a Vitamin C based serum under your sunscreen layer will aid in protecting the skin better and reduce the chances of hyperpigmentation. You must also use a lip balm with SPF as during the summer, the lips develop higher sensitivity.
While the face is important, you must also remember to cover all the exposed parts of your body with sunscreen. There are body spray sunscreens, which allow easy application, now available in the market,” Dr. Patel told Financial

Benefits of sunscreen

Dr. Annie Flora, senior consultant Dermatologist, Apollo Spectra & Apollo Cosmetics Clinic, Chennai reveals that sunscreen protects skin from photoaging, thereby slowing down aging changes.

“It also prevents the aggravation of sunlight-induced allergies called polymorphic light eruptions and also from photosensitivity. Melasma, freckles, and lentigines need sun protection so the condition does not exacerbate,” Dr. Flora told Financial

According to Dr. Flora, it is also crucial to take precautions to protect the skin from the sun in addition to wearing sunscreen, such as avoiding the sun’s strongest rays, donning protective clothing, and donning a hat and sunglasses. Furthermore, in case of excessive sun exposure, sweating, or activities like swimming, reapplication of sunscreen frequently (every two hours) is recommended, she added.

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First published on: 20-04-2023 at 16:54 IST