Skincare is more than just looking beautiful. It is also about protecting the skin from harsh environmental elements like pollution and sun rays. How to protect the skin from sun rays?
Almost everyone knows the answer- By using sunscreen.
Sunscreens are specially formulated creams that protect the skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays.
Ever wondered how chemical sunscreens work? Let’s deconstruct sunscreen in this article.
To understand sunscreens, first, let’s understand how the sun affects our skin a wheatish complexion.
How Does the Sun Affect Our Skin?
The sun emits harmful UVA (wavelength range 320-400 nm) and UVB (wavelength range 280–320 nm) rays. About 90% of UVA rays reach the Earth’s surface as they have longer wavelengths.
UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and damage the collagen and elastin fibers that give skin elasticity and firmness. This leads to visible signs of premature aging, like wrinkles and saggy skin.
UVB rays penetrate the skin less deeply because of their shorter wavelengths. However, they are more intense and cause sunburn. Both rays cause severe skin problems and damage the skin.
What is a Sunscreen?
Sunscreen is a skincare product that is supposed to be used after moisturization. Sunscreen creates a barrier between the skin and the outside environment. It either absorbs or deflects harmful sun rays, keeping the skin unharmed. Sunscreens are of two types: physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen.
How Does a Chemical Sunscreen Work?
Chemical sunscreens have compounds that get absorbed into the skin. When exposed to UV rays, they catalyze a chemical reaction and convert UV rays into harmless heat. This heat is then released from the skin. This is opposed to physical or mineral sunscreens that create a protective layer over the skin to reflect harmful UV rays. The active ingredients in chemical sunscreens include Benzophenone-3, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, and Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate.
The FDA has banned chemicals like aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and trolamine salicylate in sunscreens. It is crucial to know the ingredients of your skincare products to ensure they are completely safe.
Let’s deconstruct some of these ingredients in detail:
- Benzophenone-3absorbs and scatters UVB and short UVA rays (280-350nm). It is highly stable and provides peak protection at 288 nm. It ensures broad-spectrum protection when used with other UV filters.
- Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane is the only available chemical that works best against both UVA1 and UVA2 rays (310-400 nm).
- Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate absorbs UVB radiation at wavelengths (280 to 320nm). It provides peak protection at 310nm.
- Many chemical sunscreens also have phospholipids as enhancers to increase the penetration of ingredients and glycerin to maintain hydration levels and skin elasticity.
A good chemical sunscreen or alpha arbutin and niacinamide use physical blockers like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. should have a powerful combination of these filters to provide broad protection from UV rays.
How to Use Sunscreen Effectively?
Last but not least, knowing how to apply sunscreen correctly is crucial for maximizing its benefits.
Follow the two-finger application rule. Squeeze the sunscreen on two fingers and dot it all over your face. Massage until it is soaked. Pay attention to areas such as the eyelids and ears that are often overlooked.
Chemical sunscreens are gaining popularity because they suit all skin types and have excellent coverage. These are easy to apply and don’t leave the skin shiny. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outside. This will allow it to absorb completely and create a protective layer.
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