MANILA, Philippines ? The dry, humid air and burning sensation on the skin are sure signs of our notoriously sizzling summer.
SPF, short for Sun Protection Factor, refers to a product?s effectiveness against ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays are popularly classified into UVA (long wave or black light), UVB (medium wave) and UVC (short wave or germicidal). Heavy exposure to the latter two can lead to skin cancer.
The sun gives off UVA rays all year round and recent studies have shown that summer magnifies the effects of skin exposure to UVB rays, which also cause sunburn. Prolonged exposure to UVA rays, which penetrate more deeply into the skin, causes skin aging, wrinkles and pigmentation.
Reading the label
The rule of thumb when choosing sunscreen is: The higher the SPF grade, the better.
SPF 30, 45, 60, 75, etc. all differ from each other in formulation with differences in consistency. These numbers, multiplied by the average time it takes for one?s skin to burn without sun protection, equal the new amounts of time one can be exposed to the sun without getting burned. Applying SPF 30 to a person who takes 15 minutes to burn will now take 450 minutes for the burn to occur.
Searching for a product with ?broad-spectrum protection? is also important, as this indicates that the product protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
The ?PA++? rating on the bottles is ?a measurement of the protection factor against UVA rays,? says dermatologist Zharlah Gulmatico-Flores. The best protection against UVA rays is three-plus signs. This rating is also important for daily sun protection products.
Make sure to follow instructions on the products such as applying generously 20-30 minutes before sun exposure to maximize results.
It is advised that sunscreen be reapplied every two hours, for outdoor activities (due to swimming or excessive sweating). Reapplying sunscreen in the middle of the day is also advised for other activities.
Other key ingredients to look for in sunscreen are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
A common complaint against sunblocks and sunscreens is the ?sticky feeling.? Trying sunblock in gel formulation such as Neutrogena Sunblock Gel is advisable since the skin absorbs gel easily and quickly and doesn?t add to the skin?s oil build-up throughout the day.
VMV?s Armada line, which comes in SPF 30, 45 and 60 (for both skin and body), is another great option because it helps lighten skin of its dark spots and hyperpigmentation, or dark skin patches.
Antioxidants combined with sunscreen are very effective in fighting sun damage. The Body Shop?s Vitamin C SPF 15 Daily Moisturizer contains antioxidants.
Neutrogena?s Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunblock SPF 30 and Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 50 are also options for lightweight daily sun protection for the body.
Many lotions have also incorporated sunblock into their products for one-step protection and moisturizing regimen such as Vaseline Intensive Care Healthy Sunblock SPF 30 and Nivea.
An Allure article recommends applying sunblock on the back of one?s hands daily as it is here where one sees the first signs of aging.
Layering on or switching to make-up bases with SPF-like foundation and powder, on top of facial sunblocks, is another way to protect your skin.
For this season?s summer affairs, Beach Hut has a complete line of sunscreen, hair and scalp sunblock, as well as tanners, which all come in spray formulas to allow for lightweight but heavy duty sun protection. Try Beach Hut Max Clear Spray SPF 75 for outdoor summer activities with Beach Hut Hair and Scalp Spray Sunblock to protect and moisturize hair.
Children must stay away from the sun between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. because exposure to UV rays is accumulated throughout one?s lifetime and studies have shown ?that people with excessive sun exposure in their childhood years are at increased risk of skin cancer,? said Gulmatico-Flores.
Fragrance-free sunscreen should be used on children, like Kiehl?s Vital Sun Protection SPF 25 Sunscreen, which is good for both face and body and is water-resistant.
Armada Baby 60 by VMV is also a must-try with its Chemical-Sunscreen-Free makeup recommended for infants and children ages 0+ (also great for those with sensitive skin).
Other brands that carry sunblock formulated for children are Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic and Banana Boat.
A quick tip to remember about sun protection: Summer or not, protect the skin vigilantly by applying the fitting formula. And never forget the back of your hand.