Beauty Rx: Sun Protection
What does transcend generations, however, is the overall lack of sunscreen use. The use of sunscreen has not been culturally ingrained in the South Asian community. Myths have been created suggesting that those with darker skin are protected from sun damage. These myths come in many forms, whether it is that those with pigmented skin “don’t burn,” or that they are safeguarded from skin cancer or that pigmented skin has a built-in sun protection factor.
The fact of the matter is that regardless of your skin tone, everyone is susceptible to ultra-violet (UV) damage. The number-one contributor to aging skin is exposure to the sun, resulting in fine lines, wrinkles and pigmented spots. The risk of serious medical complications, like skin cancer, melanoma, burns and rashes, is dramatically increased with UV exposure. While skin does have an SPF rating, it is not nearly enough to protect against harmful rays. Black skin has an SPF of 13.4 and white skin has an SPF of 3; South Asians fall somewhere in between.
Sun protection can be achieved by incorporating three elements into your daily routine: behaviour, clothing and sunscreen.
Step 1: Choose the Correct Sunscreen
- Dermatologists recommend a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30.
- Choose a broad-spectrum product (one with ingredients like titanium-dioxide and zinc oxide). This will protect against UVA, which accounts for 95 percent of UV rays.
Step 2: Correct Application
- Sunscreen should be applied all 365 days of the year. UV can penetrate through cloud cover, reflect off of the snow and sand and it can pass through window and car glass.
- Apply sunscreen in the morning, about 30 minutes before leaving the house.
- Sunscreen should also be reapplied after swimming or sweating.
Step 3: Couple these Efforts with Appropriate “Safe Sun” Behaviour
- Sun-protective behaviours and clothing protection respectively are the most valuable methods to protect against UV damage.
- Keep out of the sun from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.
- Wear protective clothing that covers the skin. (You can maintain a sense of style with broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses.)
- And of course, seek shade!
Protecting yourself against the sun’s harmful rays requires a shift in your mindset that involves embracing your natural skin tone and maintaining a good sun-protection regimen. This will inevitably minimize damage sustained and promote healthy skin that looks fresh and youthful.
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BY DR. DAVINDRA SINGH / PUBLISHED IN THE BEAUTY ISSUE, SPRING 2012