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How Does Sunscreen Protect Your Skin: A Breakdown

Are you looking forward to a long day at the beach? If so, make sure you pack your towels, cooler, sunglasses, and…don’t forget your sunscreen!

Many of us forget to take our sunscreen along to protect ourselves against sunburn. Either that, or we don’t give importance to the sunscreen in the first place.

That’s because we don’t know how important sunscreen is. It does work to protect your skin from sunburn and other risk factors.

If you want to know how does sunscreen protect your skin, keep reading on:

How Does Sunscreen Work?

Sunscreen can come in the form of sprays, lotions, waxes, or gels. They are made of inorganic chemicals that help reflect sunlight away from your skin. There are also organic chemicals that absorb UV rays, preventing your skin from absorbing these rays.

As the sunscreen absorbs these UV rays, they’ll get broken down. The sunscreen will then emit heat from your body.

Blocking UV rays is one of the most important methods for protecting yourself against possible sunburn. In addition to sunscreen, you can also wear clothing such as mens UV shirts to reflect these rays.

Physical Sunscreen vs. Chemical Sunscreen

When choosing your sunscreen, you’ll have to choose between physical and chemical sunscreen.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of physical sunscreen:

  • Pro: Offers a broad spectrum for protection and less likely to cause  skin irritation
  • Pro: It reflects heat
  • Pro: They don’t clog your pores easily
  • Con: It’s harder to rub in
  • Con: It can rub off if you sweat or if you swim

Here are the pros and cons of chemical sunscreen:

  • Pro: It’s easy to spread across your skin
  • Pro: It rubs into the skin and prevents residue
  • Con: You have to apply it in advance as it doesn’t work immediately
  • Con: It can irritate your skin

You have to choose which type of sunscreen works best for you. You might want to ask your physician if you might experience any allergic reaction or irritation to your skin.

As a general rule, you want as few chemical ingredients in them. All sunscreens will have some, but you want to make sure your sunscreen doesn’t have many. 

Sun Protection Factor

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) refers to how long the sunscreen will last to protect your skin.

The two most common levels are SPF 15 and SPF 30. The lower the level, the lower the sunscreen lasts. If you are fair-skinned, it’s generally recommended that you wear SPF 30.

SPF 30 can usually last for up to two hours. If you’re planning on being in the sun for much longer, you might want to consider SPF 50.

The darker your complexion is, the lower the level you can wear. SPF 15 is fine for dark complexions.

The longer you plan to be in the sun, the higher the SPF level should be. You might want to carry multiple sunscreens with you.

For example, you might only plan on being in the sun for two hours. As such, you’ll wear SPF 30. But if you end up staying longer, you might want to apply the SPF 50 sunscreen after two hours pass.

What Are the Vulnerable Areas?

So which are the vulnerable areas in your body? These are the areas you need to cover with sunscreen to protect against possible sunburn.

As a general rule, any exposed skin is vulnerable. So if you are sunbathing topless, then you must spread sunscreen on your chest.

Here are the most vulnerable areas that you have to always protect:

Head and Neck: Place sunscreen all over your face and on the front and back of your neck. These are prone to strong sunburns.

Arms and Shoulders: Spread sunscreen on your arms and shoulders if you’re going outside wearing a sleeveless top. This area is prone to medium sunburns.

Stomach: During the summertime, this area can experience strong sunburns. Men and women who wear two-piece bikinis should spread sunscreen pervasively on this area.

Legs and Feet: Both these areas are prone to strong sunburns. If you experience strong sunburns here, you can expect the skin to peel off. You’ll have trouble wearing pants and shoes! Make sure you spread sunscreen with a high-level SPF on this area.

Best Practices

Finally, let’s look at a few best practices to protect yourself and others from damage from the sun:

  • Make sure you have at least two full tubes of sunscreen with you at all times
  • Carry one in your pocket when you go out
  • Apply on all of your vulnerable areas no matter how long you’re in the sun
  • Use at least one ounce of sunscreen on each of your vulnerable areas
  • Children should wear sunscreen with SPF 15
  • Children should also wear protective clothing and play in the shade
  • Babies should never be directly under the sun
  • For the beach, wear thicker swimwear that can reflect light
  • Always wear sunglasses, hats, and other protective gear
  • Tan naturally; avoid tanning beds and artificial tanning salons

Even if the climate is mild, you have to protect yourself from the sun if it’s a sunny day.

Regardless of your skin complexion, you always run the risk of damage from the sun. You’ll have to assess what SPF level works best for your complexion.

If you’re going to be in the sun for a long time, you want to bring enough water. You can also bring personal fans and even ice to protect yourself from heat and dehydration.

Now You Know How Does Sunscreen Protect Your Skin

Now you know how sunscreen protects your skin and can prepare yourself for the future. Make sure you don’t put this off and have an abundant supply of sunscreen at all times.

Whether you’re planning a long day at the beach or going out for a short walk, you’re prone to sunburns.

If you experience strong sunburns, this can last for days and cause serious health problems. Speak to your physician on what sunscreen and other protection they recommend.

Please share this guide with your fellow beachgoers! You can find more great health and lifestyle tips on our website.

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