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Take necessary precautions to protect yourself from the sun.
Understanding The UV Index
UV index explains the strength of UV rays emitted from sun in a location at a given point of time. The higher the number, the stronger the rays.
What are UV Rays?
Ultra Violet (UV) emission is a type of electromagnetic radiation and sun is its main source. They are categorized into three types based on their wavelength ranges.
These rays have longest wavelength & 95% of the rays reaches Earth’s surface. Most of us are exposed to UVA rays on everyday basis. They have the energy to penetrate deep into the skin layers & plays a major role in aging & causing wrinkles. Recent studies, support the claim that UVA rays can damage epidermis (outer skin layer) that may lead to skin cancers. UVA is the dominant tanning ray and over tanning leads to injury of skin’s DNA, which can cause skin cancer.
UVB rays stand next in the line after UVA. These rays penetrates to earth atmosphere and are considered as the prime cause for skin reddening & skin burns. The intensity of UVB rays may vary from season to season, time of the day & location. However, the general peak hours are considered to be around 10 AM to 2 PM.
These rays have least wavelength when compared to UVA & UVB and are considered as the most damaging. However, UVC rays get absorbed by the ozone layer, even before entering Earth’s atmosphere.
Prevention is better than Cure:
As avoiding sun throughout the day is practically impossible, Sunscreen is the best possible way to protect yourself from UV radiation. Although using sunscreen, try to seeking shade during peak hours (10AM to 2PM), as this duration emits strongest UV radiation.
Sunscreens are categorized based on the value of Sun Protection Factor or SPF. SPF is not the amount of protection, rather it indicates how much time it takes for the UV rays to penetrate into skin layers and cause damage.
For an instance, if you’re using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, it protects your skin 15x longer than without a sunscreen. SPF 15 sunblock protects against 93% of UV rays; and SPF 30, 97 percent & SPF-50, 98%. So, for higher and better sun protection, opt for sunscreens with higher SPF value – like SPF 30 and above.
Choosing the best sunscreen:
When you come across the sunblocks which feature phrases like multispectrum & broad-spectrum, pick them up. Because, these are the sunscreens, that effectively covers for both UVA and UVB rays.
However, for some brands these are just selling-phrases, they might not offer protection from UVA rays. This is when you need to turn the pack and read the label. Look for the ingredients like avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. Mexoryl), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide. These ingredients are FDA approved and are considered to protect our skin from harmful UV rays.
It’s not possible to not to wash your face for a whole day. This is why you opt for water-resistant sunblocks. This doesn’t mean that sunscreens will not be washed away, they will, but they extend sun protection for a while longer than normal sunscreens. This buys you an ample time to re-apply the sunblock.
Some other sun protection hacks:
Alongside the sunscreen, there are some preventive measures to protect your skin from harsh sun rays.
- Don’t burn
- Stay in shade between 10AM to 2PM
- Wear protective clothing, use broad-brimmed hat and UV protection sunglasses
- Use sunscreen 30-minutes before going out in the sun – everyday (Yes, even if it’s cloudy!)
- For higher sun protection use high SPF, broad-spectrum and water resistant sun block