Why you need sunscreen even if you’re not outside
Just about everyone knows that sun protection is the number one method to prevent premature aging of the skin and related skin conditions like sunburn, hyper pigmentation, melanoma, melasma, wrinkles etc. It’s been drummed into our heads that we should be using products with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor), and ingredients that protect against the sun’s UVB rays and UVA rays.
What exactly are UVB and UVA rays and what’s the difference?
Ultraviolet B rays (UVB) penetrate the top layer of skin and is what causes our skin to burn or tan. The SPF in products protects only against UVB rays. Ultraviolet A rays (UVA) penetrate much deeper into the skin layers (the dermis) and is what causes major damage to our skins; the least of which is premature aging and the worst, skin cancer. UVA also penetrates through glass which is why you need sunblock or sunscreen even if you’re indoors.
Why do we say sunblock or sunscreen as if there’s a difference? Well because there is a difference. Sunscreen absorbs the sun’s UV rays before it hits the skin, whereas a sunblock blocks the sun’s rays completely.
If you choose to wear a sunblock, look for one with Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide as both of them protect against UVA and UVB rays. In sunscreens, look for oxybenzone, avobenzone and mexoryl as they all protect against both UVB and UVA, but make sure to reapply your sunscreen it often as it wears off faster than sunblock.
Fortunately most Korean and Asian sunscreens in general protect against both UVB and UVA rays and will have both an SPF number for UVB protection and a PA level for UVA protection. PA levels are ranked with a “+” sign next to it. The more +s, the higher the level of protection against UVA rays. The highest level is PA+++ (3). Western sunscreens might not always have a PA rating, but it will have wording such as “broad spectrum” or state specifically that it guards against both UVB and UVA rays.
A word of caution on sunscreens:
I’m not a fan of sunblock and prefer the lighter sunscreens, but I have to do my beauty duty and mention this warning: Sunscreens can also form free radicals on the skin. Free radicals can be explained in scientific terms, but to simplify: Free Radicals are basically greedy thieves who want to steal energy from healthy skin cells and destroy them.
Free radicals leave behind a trail of destruction in the form of damaged skin. The more free radicals there are, the more damage to your skin. It’s not just sunblock that can form free radicals, they can also form as a result of pollution which is not easily preventable.
How to guard and combat free radicals?
You can use an anti-oxidant such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A or E to combat those nasty free radicals.
A final sun protection tip:
If you don’t want the white cast that most sunscreens cause, then choose one that is lighter in consistency. Great ones as researched by Chichibanban which you can read on her blog include: the A’pieuPure Block Aqua Sun Gel, The Saem Eco Earth Power Light Sun Cream, Etude House Sunprise Must Daily, BeyondHug Sun Moisture Milk, The Face Shop Natural Sun Eco Sebum Control Moisture Sun, It's Skin UV Away Perfect Sunblock and the Missha All Around Safe Block Essence Sun.
Be safe and have an amazing day!