Tips for skin care: How to apply sunscreen?

You scream, I scream, Sunscreen! There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about how to apply sunscreen. Usually, only the bright sunshine reminds us of the importance of sunscreen but NO! Your skin needs to be protected even when there’s no sun! Check what science really has to say about sunscreen.

Sunscreens are made to protect our skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Moreover, they help in preventing tans, sunburn, wrinkles, leathery skin and reduce the risk of skin cancer too when used properly and in adequate amounts. But, if you’re wearing sunscreen, that doesn’t mean you can stay longer in the heated sun as much as you can.

Here’s a lot more for you to decide whether sunscreen is a friend or foe to your skin.

Types of sunscreen:

There are basically two types of sunscreens. Each of them protects the skin in a different way.

Chemical sunscreen:

This type of sunscreen usually contains active ingredients such as octinoxate, oxybenzone, octisalate, avobenzone, octocrylene or homosalate. It works like a sponge. They help in protecting the skin by absorbing the sun’s UV rays before it penetrates the skin. This sunscreen is easier to rub and blends well.

Physical sunscreen:

This is also called Mineral sunscreen. It typically contains zinc oxide, titanium oxides or both as an active which works like a shield. It helps by reflecting the UV rays away from the skin. This sunscreen works best for sensitive skin.

Both sunscreen works well for the skin. Normally, a combination is used. While buying a sunscreen 2 things must be kept in the mind – SPF and broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB). Water resistance is another factor to be considered.

What is SPF?

The full form of SPF is a Sun Protection Factor. It is used to measure how much or how well the sunscreen protects the skin against UVB rays. In simple terms, it measures how long it takes for the sun to burn (redden) the skin with and without sunscreen application.

What SPF should I use?

The SPF and its protection are directly proportional i.e., higher the SPF number, higher the protection. 15 SPF (block around 93% UVB rays) is the least that you should use whereas SPF 30 (blocks 97%) works best of all.

Why is daily application of sunscreen recommended?

Application of sunscreen should be a daily and a year-round habit that everyone should build. Here are few reasons to do so –

  • Protects the skin from UV rays
  • Lowers risk of skin cancer
  • Prevents premature Aging
  • Maintains even skin tone
  • Protect against sunburn
  • Avoid blotchy skin
  • Avoids hyperpigmentation
  • Stop DNA damage
When should I apply sunscreen and how much?

Always remember, apart from sun damaging your skin, sand, water, stone and snow also reflect the sunrays and harms your skin. Make sure to apply sunscreen when around these surroundings. The sun’s radiations are strongest between 10am – 4pm. Avoid excessive or prolonged exposure.

The answer to how much to and how to apply sunscreen is- sunscreen must be applies 30 minutes prior to sun exposure so that it can be absorbed by the body completely and less likely to wash off when you perspire. Generally speaking, 30 grams of sunscreen is required to cover your entire body! REAPPLICATION OF SUNSCREEN AFTER EVERY 2 HOURS IS A MUST.

Every part of the body which is not covered is eligible for sunscreen application. Face, neck, arms, ears, lips, legs and areas hard to reach like the back should be focused.


Even if you are staying indoors and don’t feel the need to apply sunscreen, you still have to apply sunscreen. This is because UV light can penetrate your skin through the openings and windows. It’s like you’re receiving the similar UV rays as you would if you were outside.

On cloudy days:

Sun is hidden on cloudy days. But, studies state that even though it’s hidden, around 80% of the UV radiation reaches earth. Unfortunately, it results in skin damage. So next time don’t forget to apply sunscreen on cloudy days too.

High altitudes:

Higher altitudes increase the risk of sun damage. Applying sunscreen reduces this impact and protects the skin. Snow reflects 80% of the rays. So next time you go skiing, don’t forget to apply your sun gear!


Application of sunscreen during summers is a must and explainable, but why winters? This is because during winters, the ozone layers thin out. This means we have less defence against UV rays.  Therefore, it is important to apply sunscreen even to the easy to forget areas.

Light clothing:

Clothing definitely acts as a protective gear from the sunrays. But, not all. Light weight and coloured fabrics and garments are more likely to be hit by sun and allow light. Alternatively, dark or dense coloured clothes provide good defence. Application of sunscreen while wearing light clothing is important.

Swimming and other high perspiration activities:

Swimming and activities like heavy exercise, running, jogging washes out the sunscreen. It is advisable to reapply the sunscreen after such activities for better protection.

Some tips:

Reapply sunscreen after every 2 hours

  • Choose broad spectrum sunscreen
  • Be careful around sensitive areas (eyes, nose, bruises, irritated skin)
  • Apply thoroughly
  • Shake well before use (Spray and sticks are available now)
  • Choose water resistant sunscreen
  • SPF 30 works best
  • Wear protective gears
  • Do not use sunscreen on infants or below 6 months
  • Make sure you are not allergic to the ingredients mentioned
  • If you are already using some medicated products, make sure that no interactions occur
  • Works best when applied bare skin or after serum as it protects the skin not only from UV rays but also from the makeup from going deep into skin.
Foods with UV protecting properties:

Apart from sunscreen application and wearing protective gears, here’s an extra dose of sun protection! Yes, there are few foods that help with extra UV protection. Include this in your diet for good results.

  • Berries: Blueberry, strawberry, cherries
  • Red wine (Moderate amounts)
  • Omega-3 rich and Vitamin E foods: Sunflower seeds, salmon, sardines, hemp seeds, nuts, avocado
  • Antioxidants and vitamin C rich: Green tea, pomegranate, dark chocolate, tomatoes, olive oil, watermelon
  • Beta-carotene rich: Carrots, sweet peppers, sweet potato
  • Dark green vegetables: Spinach, kale, broccoli
  • Coffee

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