How Does Sunscreen Work to Protect Your Skin?
Sunscreens are skin care products that are essential for protecting your skin. It is our skin that forms a barrier and protects our internal organs from external factors. But our skin is fragile and prone to any type of damage. One of the major problems that your skin faces is exposure to ultra violet rays of the sun. Ultra violet rays include UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. Sunscreen helps in protecting your skin from these rays by filtering them and preventing these rays from penetrating into the skin. You get sunscreens in the form of lotions and creams. You get them under different brand names and with varying SPFs.
What is Ultraviolet Radiation?
Ultraviolet radiation has shorter wave length the normal visible light. A large part of the energy emitted by the sun is in the form of UV. The ozone layer that covers the earth has a great role in filtering most of the UV rays before they reach the surface of the earth.
The intensity of UV radiations that you are exposed to depends on various factors like your proximity to the equator, time of the day, altitude, season, cloudiness and so on. With increase in altitude, you are more at a risk of UV exposure.
UV radiation can be categorized into different groups depending on its wavelength. UV-B radiation is mainly responsible for causing sunburn. UVA radiations can cause long term damage to the skin. Sunscreen can protect you from both these radiations and keep your skin healthy and in good condition.
How Sunscreen Works?
When you apply sunscreen on your skin, the ingredients contained in it help in reflecting away the sunlight that falls on your skin. This way it plays a great role in preventing various diseases of the skin like skin cancer etc. Some of the sunscreens are said to have the power to absorb the ultraviolet rays and prevent them from reaching the skin. This way it helps in protecting your skin from the damages caused by these harmful rays. Sunscreen differs from sun blocks. But some sunscreens are said to possess a portion of sun block also. The functioning of sunscreen is determined by its composition, presence of SPFs, and also the method of applications.
Composition of Sunscreens:
Certain organic and inorganic compounds are combined together in sunscreens. There are two types of ingredients in them that are active. The first one is inorganic particles, which include zinc oxide and titanium oxide. These are known to protect the skin physically. They either scatter or reflect back the ultra violet rays that fall on the skin. The other active ingredients are organic compounds. They are said to protect the skin from the ultra violet rays by absorbing these rays and then getting rid of them in the form of heat energy. Earlier, the inorganic compounds appeared as white paints. But nowadays, with the advancement in nanotechnology, the sunscreens are available in transparent and clear form. They are also very effective. Some of the organic compounds that help in making sunscreens more effective are Benophenones, Cinnamates and Paba.
Broad Spectrum SPF: How Long does that Sunscreen Work?
Sunscreens contain ingredients that work on the skin by either reflecting the ultra violet rays or by absorbing them and converting them into heat energy. However, they can be fully effective only if they provide a broad spectrum coverage and also SPF. SPF means Sun Protecting Factor. All sunscreens posses this and they help in preventing sunburn, as they work specifically for UVB rays. SPF varies from one sunscreen to the other. This factor is based on multiplication. This means that the quantity of SPF mentioned on the container is to be multiplied by 40 to determine how much time a person can spend in the sun without suffering from sunburns. So, if the SPF given on a sunscreen is 10, then after multiplication it would convert to about two and a half hours. So, if you are using sunscreen with 10 SPF, then you can spend two and a half hours in the sun without getting any sunburn.
Mode of Action and Method of Applying Sunscreen:
You can buy sunscreens in the form of lotions or creams. They can be medicated or scented as well. You get them at any general store and they are available under various brand names. Sunscreens take some time to spread on the skin and become effective. So, the best way to get its full advantage is to apply it on your skin about half an hour before you go out. These sunscreens are generally water based or oil based. So it is easy to apply it on your body and they spread well on your skin. When you apply it on the skin, take care that you do not rub it or massage it into your skin. All you have to do is to apply it liberally on the skin and let the skin absorb it.
So, you have seen what sunscreen is and how it works on your skin and protects it from various harmful effects of the sun’s rays. They are one of the best solutions for protecting your skin from tanning and sunburn. Make sure to apply sunscreen on your face and other exposed parts of your body before you go out. You must apply it even if it is a cloudy day, as the rays of the sun can still reach you and cause damage. You must choose the sunscreen according to the type of skin you have. There are sunscreens specially formulated for oily skin, dry skin, normal skin, combination skin and so on. Read the instruction given on the pack and follow the directions properly.