It is that time of the year again when people pack their bags and head to cooler areas for a summer ‘vacation’; girlfriends, wives, kids, no kids, boyfriends, husbands, uncles and aunts, neighbours and friends (pause…Phew!) in tow. Who you travel with is completely subjective but ‘what’ you travel with is a question of necessity. Now, the top of your lists may be your favourite book or dress or shoes or music but one thing that sneakily fits into your travel cases is the ever essential SUNSCREEN.
You never paid attention to this itsy tube ever before but I am sure that after reading this today you would carefully choose and pack your best buddy for any holiday which requires you to be under the sun for any considerable amount of time.
Did you ever wonder how sunscreen actually works? I mean what’s this magic potion which when applied in the right measure and procedure makes you the fairest of them all?
There are inorganic chemicals such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in a usual sunblock which act like the colour white and reflect UV rays. There are also some organic compounds such as avobenzone or oxybenzone which actually absorb the harmful UV radiation by forming some kind of chemical bonds. So, while you are enjoying a game of beach volley there is actually a chemistry class going on all over your skin.
SPF – Sun Protection Factor
It is not a percentage value of how good your sunscreen is. It signifies for how long you can enjoy a sunburn free outing without reapplication. So, if your skin takes 5 minutes to burn and you have an SPF 50 sunblock, it means you have your worry free 250 minutes in the sun.
The sunlight that touches your body also has UVB radiation which is the actual cause of cancers of various types in different people. So when your sunscreen reflects these UVA and UVB rays it is preventing the harmful radiation from reaching into the layers of protein and fats under your skin thus preventing it from altering your cellular mechanism.
That is just a way of your body telling you that some damage has been done. If this is prolonged and frequent the consequences may be serious.
Now, that you the basics are taken care of, just a few things to remember:
- Dark people do need sun protection. Their skin works the same as any of the others.
- A cloudy day still has UVA and UVB radiation and therefore you should not skip your sun protection regime.
- Always give yourself at least 15 minutes after applying ample sunblock lotion before stepping into the sun.
- Remember to reapply after every couple of hours, frequently if you are in the water.
P.S. – Read about the human side effects and environmental effects of oxybenzone by yourself, please.
16 May 2016