Excessive exposure to sunlight causes sunburn, premature aging, wrinkling and brown pigmentation. It also increases the risk of skin cancer. In some people, sunlight may induce skin rashes or worsen an existing skin condition. Although your skin has its own natural defense mechanism, it is not enough to prevent the damage caused by ultraviolet radiation.
The so-called healthy tan is actually a response to sun damage. The skin starts to become darker and the outer layers become thicker in an effort to provide a better barrier against the sunrays. However, the harmful rays are still able to penetrate this natural barrier. Additional protection is essential to prevent damage into the deeper layers of your skin.
Sunscreens are creams, lotions, sprays or oils that protect the skin from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation of the sun by providing a chemical or physical barrier to it.
Chemical sunscreens absorb ultraviolet radiation, preventing it from reaching the deeper layers of the skin. Examples of some common active ingredients are:
Physical sunscreens reflect and scatter light, thus preventing the ultraviolet radiation from penetrating the skin. Examples of some common active ingredients include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is an index to indicate the degree of protection from ultraviolet B (UVB), the type of ultraviolet radiation that is more likely to cause sunburn. The higher the SPF, the longer the duration of the protection. A sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher should be applied frequently to maintain protection.
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