Watch out for the sun!

Summer’s here with the hot sun in tow! The heat on my skin’s a constant painful reminder of the atrocities of UV rays. I’m sure most of you must be feeling the same way!

There are all sorts of sunscreens out in the market, but sun protection is a complicated subject matter, given the number of queries and misconceptions users have about it. I’ll address the common ones as best as I can!

First off, let's begin with the basics!

Does using a sunblock with SPF30 prolong amount of time taken for UV rays to affect skin by 30 times?
Answer: SPF, or Sun Protection factor, has no direct relation to time. The theory of SPF products delaying UV rays from penetrating skin is very misleading as it implies that SPF products act as an absolute shield between your skin and the UV rays for a certain period of time, which isn’t true. It is quite impossible to reduce the effect that the UV rays have on your skin to 0. A more accurate interpretation would be applying products with SPF30 reduces the energy from the UV rays that comes into contact with your skin to 1/30 in comparison to not applying any at all.

If I avoid exposure to the sun as much as I can, can I still get sufficient vitamin D?
We now have a wide variety of food products and supplements, so many people tend to assume that it’s possible to obtain vitamin D through dietary means. However, exposure to sunlight is a more efficient means of getting Vitamin D as the body produces it when sunlight enters through our skin. But there’s no need to sunbathe on purpose, especially since UV rays are harmful. Instead, you can just sunbathe your hands daily (stick them out of your window!) for 5 to 10 minutes. The cuticle layer on our palms is thicker than that on other parts of the body, so our palms are less likely to develop brown spots.

I have inborn freckles. Will UV ray exposure cause them to darken?
Yes they will. Inborn freckles are a little different from freckles that develop later on in your life. As you grow up, the freckles get darker, but when you’ve hit 20, the freckles tend to start fading. UV rays are capable of aggravating the darkening process, and causing faded freckles to come back again. It’s best to start using sunscreen as early in your life.

What quick solutions are there for sunburnt skin?
This is a regrettably common question. The best solution is of course to prevent yourself from staying out in the sun too much, but when you're in a holiday mood, you tend to forget all these precautions.

Since your skin has absorbed a large amount of energy from UV rays, the best solution is to bring down the temperature. Not only does bringing down the temperature rid your skin of discomfort, it will also prevent the production of pigmentation. There are many reasons for the formation of pigmentation and dark spots. One reason is the release of histamine from the skin due to exposure to UV rays. Histamine activates the production of melamine, causing more dark spots to occur. Reducing the skin’s temperature helps to prevent the release of histamine. However, do not touch your skin with the cooling material directly as it will be painful. You can wrap a wet towel over some ice cubes and place it gently over your face.

In my next post, I will venture into queries pertaining to the application of sunscreen. As always, feel free to send me your questions!
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