• Dr. Naureen Akhtar General Practitioner MBBS,MRCGP,DRCOG
sunscreen

Based on a study conducted by Australian researchers, regular use of sunscreen protects the skin from photoaging – the hyperpigmentation, wrinkling and loss of elasticity due to exposure to the sun’s UV radiation. Although this may not be surprising, it is the first study to quantify the anti-aging properties of sunscreen.

Over 900 participants were followed for four years. They were told to use sunscreen every day and instructed on its proper usage, including reapplication after being exposed for few hours, after sweating heavily or after going in the water. The changes on the skin were measure through microtopography, a technique in which researchers do silicone impressions at the back of every subject’s hand. Skin surface pattern reflect the degree of sun’s damage to the deeper skin, particularly to the collagen and elastic fibers.

After the four-year period, damage was determined, on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 signifying skin with severe aging and 1 meaning no damage. Participants were assessed and given a score at the beginning and another one at the end. The result us that those who used sunscreen every day were 24 percent less likely to show an increase in the signs of photoaging. Because of the research, there is a now a scientific evidence to support the cosmetic value of sunscreen. Regular use of sunscreen by the young adults to those under 55 offer cosmetic benefits and reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Sun damage comes in different types. UV B radiation is the leading cause of most skin cancers and sunburns, while photoaging is primarily caused by UV A radiation, robbing the skin its natural ability to retain it shape. It also causes freckles and liver spots.

What Type of Sunscreen Should I Use?

The answer will depend on the amount of sun exposure you are anticipating. However, we recommend a broad-spectrum product that provide protection against both UVA and UVB radiation. Many lotions and moisturizers contain sunscreen, often SPF 15 or more, and this is enough for everyday activities with only few minutes under the sun. But if you are working outside or need to spend most of your time outside, you need water-resistant, stronger type that can sustain for several hours.

The water-resistant types are also preferable during hot days when you sweat a lot or while playing sports, since they’re less likely to drip into your eyes when sweating. Most of the sun protection products available today combine a variety of active chemical sun protection ingredients to give broad-spectrum protection.

How Much Sunscreen Should I Use?

To enjoy the full benefits of a sunscreen, you have to apply 1 ounce or about a shot glass full of sunscreen. If you are having a long day at the beach, use around one half to a quarter of an 8 ounce bottle. This must be applied 30 minutes before going outside to let the ingredient completely bind to the skin.

Reapply the same amount every two hours. This is as important as applying it on in the first place. Sunscreens must be reapplied after swimming, sweating or toweling off.