Sunblock or sunscreen: choosing the right lotion

Sunscreen or sunblock screens are often used to protect against ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Most sunscreen lotions are not effective against skin cancer

This practice is common among western population; however many Indians ignore the use of sunscreen lotion, probably relying on their dark skin colour as protection.

However, Indians are susceptible to skin cancer too, and it is extremely important to take all measures to protect your skin.

But do you know whether your sunscreen lotion is protecting you from screen cancer?

“Most sunscreens cannot prevent skin cancer, including deadly melanoma,” writes Dr Deepak Chopra, renowned physician.

There are two types of ultraviolet rays – UVA and UVB. Many sunscreens offer protection against UVB, not UVA.

Sunscreen’s effectiveness is described as an SPF number, which stands for sun protection factor. SPF levels range from 0 to 100+.

SPF number indicates how long you can expose yourself to the sun’s UVB rays without damaging your skin.

A sunblock lotion with an SPF of 30 lets you be in the sun 30 times longer than you would without any protection.

Unfortunately SPF factor is not a good indicator of the effectiveness of the sunscreen lotion in protecting your skin from cancer.

SPF factor does not tell you about the sunblock lotion’s effectiveness from UVA rays. In fact, it is the UVA rays that cause deeper skin damage.

So, how can you protect yourself effectively?

Make sure you are buying a lotion that offers sunblock, not just a sunscreen. For full sun block, use a lotion that contains the minerals zinc oxide and titanium oxide.

“They are not absorbed into the skin, which is why they leave your skin with a chalky, white appearance,” says Dr Chopra. “But having pale skin and “lifeguard nose” is worth the extra protection! ”

Here are some other ways of sun protection, recommended by Dr Chopra.

  • Read the label to make sure that the sunscreen provides both UVA and UVB protection.
  • This may sound obvious, and even impractical. Stay away from the sun in the afternoon. The less direct exposure, the better.
  • Wear tightly woven garments and a hat, then use sunblock only on exposed areas.
  • Reapply sunblock at least every hour outdoors, especially between the hours of 10 A.M and 4 P.M.
  • If you are concerned about the chemicals in sunblock, wear non-SPF lotions at night and under your clothes.

But what about your body’s need to get Vitamin D from the sun? You surely don’t want to deprive yourself of the vitamin D. The best time to expose your skin to the sun for Vitamin D without the risk of skin cancer, is early morning and late evening. Avoid being in the sun between 11am and 4pm.

The sun is the source of all energy. If you take the right precautions, then you can eat your cake and have it too.

Sanjay Varmani is a health writer.

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