[By Cassandra E. Solis]
Kiss me hard before you go
I just wanted you to know
That baby you’re the best— Summertime Sadness, Lana Del Rey.
If there’s only one thing you have to pick to spend the forthcoming summer with, it shouldn’t be that summer lover to shower you with kisses nor should it be that itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini to help you net an Adonis. Drumroll please. The only thing you certainly can’t live without this summer will be your good old sunscreen. The truth is, anyone over the age of six months should use a sunscreen daily, and this is especially true during the sun soaked months of summer. Even those working indoors are exposed to ultraviolet radiation for brief periods throughout the day, especially if they work near windows, which generally filter out UVB but not UVA rays.Skin protection is a 365-day job, and not simply for vanity’s sake. According to the American Cancer Society, about 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous skin cancer are diagnosed each year, with another 73,000 melanoma diagnoses (an even more dangerous type) expected this year.
“Sunscreens are products which combine several ingredients that help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, divided into UVA and UVB, from damaging our skin,” explains Dr. Kenneth Lee, senior medical consultant and director of the SW1 Clinic, a one stop destination providing medical spa, cosmetics dermatology and cutting edge aesthetics surgery in Singapore. “UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn, while UVA, which penetrate deeper into the skin causes photo-aging, characterized by wrinkling, leathering and sagging. More importantly, long term unprotected exposure to both UVA and UVB lead to increased incidence of skin malignancies.”
The sunscreen aisle of a drugstore often offers lots of choices, but which one is right for you? To get you ready for those sun shining days ahead, let us tell you what to consider while looking for the perfect match that best fits your lifestyle.
The low down on SPF
SPF otherwise known as the Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Here’s how it works. If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer, which is about five hours.
If we look at this in term of percentages, SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays, SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent, SPF 50 keeps out 98 percent while SPF70 guards against almost 100% of them. They may seem like negligible differences, but if you are light-sensitive, or have a history of skin cancer, those extra percentages will make a significant difference. And as you can see, no sunscreen can block all UV rays. SPF should not be your only consideration while choosing a sunblock. As “reddening” of skin is a reaction to UVB rays alone, it tells you little about the photo-aging UVA rays you are exposed to, with plenty of damages done even without the red flag of sunburn being raised. In short, those who burn less often end up with a false sense of skin security and over time can put themselves in more danger. The truth is, UV exposure leads to photo-aging of the skin and increases the risk of skin cancer even when it doesn’t cause a sunburn.
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Physical versus Chemical blockers
Before we come to that, to ensure protection against both UVA and UVB, consider a sunscreen which offers broad spectrum protection notwithstanding the numeric value of its SPF. Only broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher help protect against skin cancer and early skin aging if used as directed with other sun protection measures.Physical sunscreens are at times known as “natural” ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They literally sit on top of the skin and deflect or reflect the sun’s rays, acting much like a shield. Being thicker in texture, they can leave an opaque, white cast on the skin especially when applied in adequate amount. But being 100 % chemical free, it is the sunscreen of choice for baby and children, sensitive skin and individuals who went through any lasers or light therapy.
The SW1 UMBRELLA UV Protection & Light Diffusing Cream is a powerful 100% chemical and fragrance-free physical blocker that offers top notched sun protection, providing mega dose of SPF 70 with potent UV-shielding ingredients including Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, suspended in a blend of 3 antioxidant teas with an invisible shine-absorbing micro mesh of UV reflectors. A super lightweight and non-comedogenic formula that doesn’t clog pores, this soleil protecteur extraordinaire forms a breathable shield to safeguard you from both burn-causing UVB beams and wrinkle-inducing UVA rays. Added potent tea and botanical extracts provide extra perks of smoothening and brightening skins, giving complexions the desirable youthful glow along with excellent sun protection against photo-aging.
Chemical sunscreens aren’t as thick, so they are often used in sunscreens specifically made for the face as well as those found in spray bottles. Since chemical sunscreens need to be absorbed into the skin, they must be applied at least 20 minutes before heading outdoors. Chemical sunscreens contain several ingredients that, when applied, are absorbed in the top layer of skin and hence do not leave a tinge of white as compared to physical sunscreens. They react with the skin to absorb UV rays and convert them before they can harm the skin. A good example of a chemical sun fighter will be SW1 BEACH HAT UV-Protection Oil-Free Lotion which contains several ingredients that, when applied, are absorbed in the top layer of skin offering water- and perspiration-resistant mega-sun protection for all skin types exposed to intense sunlight without those dreaded white streaks. It forms a breathable shield to safeguard vulnerable complexions from both burn-causing beams and wrinkle-inducing rays with a multi-filter sunscreen complex, while natural botanicals and potent plant-extracts smooth, brighten and help skin resist sun-related stress. The new, improved formulation is super lightweight, with satin dimethicones added to the base allows it to glide on easily, leaving the skin feeling smooth, matte and silky as a tinted primer for your foundation to sit on flawlessly. In short, it keeps your makeup fresh and skin looking stunning without compromising its soleil-repelling abilities.
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There have been great strides made in water-resistant sunblock, but toweling off after a swim still wipes away most of it— once you’re out of the water, it’s time to reapply.As of Dec 2012, FDA had stipulated a law against the false declaration of “water-proof” and “sweat-proof” on sun-care products as strictly speaking, no products will stay on the skin and offer the same amount of sun protective effects forever. Sunscreens may however be labelled as “water-resistant,” if they specify whether they protect the skin for 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, based on standard testing.For instance, the SW1 UMBRELLA UV Protection & Light Diffusing Cream, a perennial favorite amongst industry heavyweights during outdoor shoots, had been evaluated and marked as water resistant for at least 60 mins in Jacuzzi water, making it highly effective for seaside activities and pool parties.
One of the most exciting development in the formulation of sun-care products of late is the Wet Force ionic technology— based on the fact that negatively-charged ions in these formulas combine with positively-charged ions of minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are found in tap water, sea water and sweat. As these minerals bond, they pull the sunscreen film along with them, creating an additional layer of invisible sun protection without a trace of white!
CHAI GUARDIAN ANGEL Gentle Facial Wash and CHAI BODYGUARD Body & Hair Wash are two skincare products which engages this newly developed ionic technology. Not only do they cleanse skin effectively, these innovative cleansers impart an invisible shield of SPF30 sun protection that’s amazingly water-resistant for up to 90 minutes in water. Taking sun protection to the next level, the CHAI sun care series truly offers some of the best protection against sun damage and undesirable pigmentation from UV exposure.
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How much, how often?
To ensure that you get the full SPF of a sunscreen, you will need to apply 1 oz of sunscreen to cover all exposed areas adequately. As a gauge, this amount is equivalent to a full shot glass, no less, with a nickel-size blob to protect your face. Studies had shown that most people apply only half to a quarter of that amount, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than what’s advertised on the label.Under-applying an SPF 15 means that you’re really getting an 8.
During a long day at the beach, one person should use around half to a quarter of an 8 oz. bottle. Sunscreens should also be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. This is especially important to take note if you are using the chemical variant. A common mistake is to slather on the sun protective film only after getting out under the sun. Reapplication of sunscreen is equally important as its initial use. Reapply the same amount every two hours and immediately after swimming, toweling off, or if you are sweating up a frenzy. But reapplication isn’t important only when you’re lounging at the beach. If you spend your day next to a window or driving around in a car, you are getting UV exposure through the glass too.And take note of oft-neglected sites such as behind the ears, back of neck and lips! With the correct type of sun protection, everyone should be allow to enjoy a little warmth under the summer’s sun without worrying.
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