Sat | Oct 21, 2017

Use protection for healthy skin

Published:Wednesday | May 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM

We are fast approaching the time of year when many of us spend more time outdoors. So here are a few reminders regarding facts about sun protection and sunscreens.

1 Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunscreens are products used to reduce the amount of UVA and UVB that is absorbed by the skin. Ultraviolet radiation is the number-one cause of skin cancer, premature ageing of the skin, and uneven pigmentation of the skin. All skin types are vulnerable to these effects, though skin cancer is most common in fairer skin types. However, darker skin types have higher rates of death when they do get skin cancer because it is usually detected at later stages of the disease.

2 Sunscreen should, therefore, be used by everyone as a part of one's daily skin care regimen. It is also perhaps the most effective topical anti-ageing product ever! This is so because sunlight causes up to 80 per cent of premature ageing of the skin.

3 Sunscreens contain ingredients that can be classified as physical sunscreens and/or chemical sunscreens based on how they work.

4 Physical sunscreens form a barrier which reflects or scatters UV rays. They are rarely associated with allergic reactions and so are suited for individuals with sensitive skin. Examples of active ingredients in physical sunscreens include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

5 Chemical sunscreens absorb then scatter UV rays. Some ingredients in chemical sunscreens may cause allergic or irritant skin reactions. Most sunscreens contain a mixture of different types of ingredients.

6 Oil-free or 'non-comedogenic' sunscreens are suited for oily and combination skin types. Some sunscreens contain added 'anti-ageing' ingredients while some make-up products also contain sunscreen.

7 The sun protection factor or SPF number on sunscreen labels indicates the ability of a sunscreen to delay the onset of sun-induced skin redness. This number only gives a measure of our protection from UVB. Sunscreens labelled broad spectrum protect against both UVA and UVB. Sunscreen labels have recently been changed to be more informative and accurate.

8 It is advised that you generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed skin and reapply approximately every few hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.

9 Individuals should avoid deliberate tanning and tanning beds. These practices cause an increased risk of the harmful effects of UV light.

10 Remember, sunscreens and sun-protective behaviour should be practised by everyone, no matter what your skin type, all year round.

Until next time, continue to take good care of the skin you're in.

- Dr Arusha Campbell-Chambers is a dermatologist and founder of Dermatology Solutions Skin Clinics & Medi-Spas; email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com