Sun protection and sunscreens

Exposure to the sun leads to sun tan, sun burn and many other effects. Apart from tanning, the skin is exposed to harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun, which has several long-term effects, like early formation of lines and wrinkles on the skin. Sun-exposure can also lead to dark spots or patches.

The skin must be protected with a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which provides protection from both UV-A and UV-B rays of the sun. What are UV rays? The sun gives off ultraviolet rays. We divide them into categories based on the wavelength. There are UV-A, UV- B and UV-C rays. Of these, UVC rays are almost completely absorbed by the ozone layer and do not affect the skin. UVB affects the outer layer of skin and is mainly responsible for sunburns. It is most intense between 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, when the sunlight is brightest. UVA rays were once thought to have a minor effect on skin damage, but now studies are showing that UVA is a major contributor to skin damage.

Sun exposure can also cause loss of moisture from the skin. However, most sunscreens have built-in moisturisers. So, it is not necessary to apply both moisturiser and sunscreen, unless the skin is very dry.

It is essential to apply sunscreen, not only on the face, but also on all exposed areas. The back of the neck and arms are extremely vulnerable to sun damage too.

The sunscreen should be applied about 20 minutes before sun-exposure. If you happen to be in the sun for more than an hour, you should re-apply the sunscreen. A sunscreen with SPF 20 is adequate for most skins, but if the skin is more sensitive and tends to burn easily, one should use a sunscreen with a higher SPF.

What is SPF?

SPF is Sun Protection Factor. It is denoted by a number, which is mentioned on the label of the sunscreen. SPF is related to duration of sun-exposure and also to individual skin-sensitivity. For sensitive skins, which are prone to dark spots and patches, a sunscreen of SPF 40 may be used. Some skins develop a rash or redness on exposure to the sun. This is also due to sun-sensitivity. Such skins require high SPF sunscreens.

Remember to apply sunscreen while swimming, holidaying by the sea or in the hills. Reflective surfaces, like water and snow actually increase the effects of UV rays.

For oily skin, look for an “oil-free” product, or apply a sunscreen lotion, rather than a sunscreen cream. Add a drop of water to it, to provide a lighter coverage. 

If the skin is very dry, apply a sunscreen cream. Or, you can apply the sunscreen, wait for a few minutes and then apply a moisturising cream.

Here are some home remedies to remove tan:

Scrub: Take 2 teaspoons ground almonds and add a little curd or cold milk. Rub the mixture gently on the skin with circular movements. Wash it off with water.

To remove tan: Add a pinch of turmeric (haldi) to curd and apply daily. Wash it off after 20 to 30 minutes.

To remove tan: Mix half cup dried lemon peel with cold milk or yogurt and apply on face daily for 20 minutes.

To remove tan on oily skin: Mix lemon juice and cucumber juice in equal quantities and apply daily for 20 minutes. Or, mix cucumber pulp with yogurt and apply on the face daily. Wash it off after 20 minutes. It will suit oily skin, since cucumber is an astringent.

For sunburn: Cold milk applied daily, using cotton wool, not only helps to soothe the skin, but also keeps it soft. It also makes the skin colour lighter over a period of time, if used daily. It would suit normal to dry skins.

Cleansing and Skin Lightening Mask: Mix cucumber and papaya pulp with one teaspoon curd, one teaspoon honey, 4 teaspoons oatmeal and one teaspoon lemon juice. Apply on face and neck, twice a week and wash it off after half an hour.

Body: Massage daily with sesame seed oil. Mix besan with curd, lemon juice and a little turmeric. The paste should be thick and should not drip. Apply on neck, arms and legs three times a week for 30 minutes. Wash it off and then apply the oil, as recommended.



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