We're in the middle of summer, and while a lot of us have cancelled our out-of-town plans indefinitely, it's still not a reason to keep our sunscreens in our vanity drawers. Even if we're confined in our homes, we should still wear sunscreen, dermatologists have said.
Most people think that wearing sunscreen only protects the skin against the sun, thus only applying it when exposed in a long time or when swimming. While that's good practice, it also helps wearing sunscreen against skin-damaging effects even when, yes, indoors, said board-certified clinical and research dermatologist Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell.
"Electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) energies—UVB, UVA, Visible Light (VL; where “blue light” falls), and Infrared (IR)—and heat-generated from them are what affect our skin the most," he said.
Translation: Everything from compact fluorescent lights (UVA) to blue lights and from computers, cellphones, and TV (VL) to cooking, heating devices, ovens, and appliances (IR) can be harmful to our skin.
To school us in, Dra. Verallo-Rowell gave ABS-CBN Lifestyle the 101 on choosing the right sunscreen while talking about the harmful effects of different lights even when confined.
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What is the difference between UVA & UVB light?
UVB are the shorter, more intense wavelengths of EMR that cause sunburns. UVA are longer, less intense, and cause no redness but go deeper into the skin to cause oxidation and inflammation that cause further damage and more agiing of your skin.
What are the benefits of wearing sunscreen?
With the broad-spectrum sun and light screen as described above, indoors and outdoors, you prevent discolorations, dark spots, and melasma; avoid reactions to chemicals you may be photosensitive to such as chlorinated antiseptics (in a lot of the disinfectants), fragrances, preservatives, dyes in products you use and environmental pollutants such as from traffic. Over years, these reactions make you look older; make you more prone to wrinkles, dark spots, warts, and (especially in paler skin) cancers.
What’s the recommended SPF?
50+, which means 50x more than the dose that makes skin red from UVB. Read the label for "broad spectrum," which means with adequate UVA protection, too. You really need both, at least. Read more and look for VL protection. The best has 50+ SPF, UVA, plus VL protection factors.
What should you look for in a sunscreen?
My best advice: Don’t go for cheap brands with claims based on just the formulation. Always read labels for more serious professional words, terms about how they are tested and what they protect you from. Look for broad-spectrum, UVB, UVA, and Visible Light protection. Research (on) the company. Are they known to be legitimate and of good reputation, especially when it comes to sunscreen testing? Lastly, avoid allergens and irritants. Many are also photo-allergens which can react with light to cause redness and skin darkening.
How often should you apply/reapply sunscreen?
If you’re indoors and cool, not perspiring, apply in the morning, and if you touch and wipe your face, reapply in the afternoon to still protect you from nighttime lights, computers etc. If you’re indoors and outdoors, reapply after going in water, every two hrs, reapply if perspiring heavily and after toweling off.
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