Updated: Jun 29
Is applying sunscreen a girly thing to do?
In the modern era, the concept of appearance has become increasingly prioritized. Influences from social media and Korean culture have brought forth the importance of skincare and beauty, leading many to believe that the younger generation is solely focused on outward appearances. However, others view this as a positive trend, as individuals are now taking proactive steps to care for their skin. Particularly commendable are those who incorporate the use of sunscreen into their daily routine, as this helps to prevent the damaging effects of sun exposure on the skin.
Unfortunately, some still hold onto the misguided notion that applying sunscreen is a “girly” thing to do, implying that it is only appropriate for women to prioritise skin care. This idea is not only false, but it can also be harmful, as it discourages men from taking proper care of their skin. In reality, everyone, regardless of gender, should make it a habit to apply sunscreen regularly in order to maintain healthy skin.
In this blog, we will delve into the topic of the harmful effects of sun exposure on the skin and sunscreen. Whether you are a skincare enthusiast or someone who is just starting to learn about the importance of sun protection, I hope that this blog will be informative and helpful in promoting healthy skin practices.
UV radiation from the sun can penetrates the skin and cau
se damage by generating reactive oxygen species (ROS). These ROS are highly reactive molecules that can interact with other molecules in the skin, causing oxidative damage. ROS are known to cause damage to proteins, lipids and DNA in skin cells, leading to tons of skin problems like premature aging, sunburn, and skin cancer. In addition, UV radiation results in melanin synthesis, leading to increased skin pigmentation within one day after exposure.
Our skin is constantly exposed to a range of harmful rays, including UVA and UVB rays, which pose a significant threat to our skin’s health and well-being. UVA rays can penetrate through glass windows and clouds, even when you are indoor or when it is raining outside. While UVA rays are notorious for causing signs of premature aging, UVB rays are known to cause sunburns. Both have the ability to
damage the DNA of skin cells directly, causing mutation that leads to most skin cancers.
Unfortunately, UVA and UVB rays are not the only forms of light radiation that pose a threat to our skin. The increasing use of smartphones and tablets has resulted in a surge of blue light exposure, which is mainly emitted by the sun, but is also produced by artificial sources such as fluorescent light, LED TVs, smartphones, computer monitors, and tablet screens. Blue light can penetrate deeper into the skin, potentially exacerbating skin damage and aging. However, unlike UV radiation, blue light is not directly linked to skin cancer development.
Therefore, it is essential to take proactive measures to protect our skin from the harmful effects of light radiation, including limiting our exposure and using sunscreen.
There are three types of sunscreen, which are physical sunscreen, chemical sunscreen and hybrid sunscreen. Physical sunscreen works by reflecting and scattering UVA and UVB. Main ingredients of physical sunscreen include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. On the other hand, chemical sunscreen works by absorbing photons from light energy, converting to heat and dissipates from the skin. Ingredients that are responsible for UVA absorption include benzophenones and ecamsule, whereas cinnamates and PABA esters absorb UVB. Substances that most frequently cause allergic contact dermatitis are Acrylate (used to adhere sunscreen to skin), Oxybenzone, Dibenzoylmethanes, Cinnamates and Benzophenones. Hybrid sunscreen is sunscreen that combines both chemical and physical sunscreen, and gives you the greatest protection. Traditional chemical sunscreens do not often protect against blue light. Physical sunscreens and hybrid sunscreen, on the other hand, do provide protection against blue light.
How to choose the right sunscreen?
Physical sunscreen has the potential to clog pores and cause acne breakouts and miliaria for some people. This is because physical sunscreen works by sitting on top of the skin and forming a physical barrier to block UV rays, and some formulations can be thick and greasy, which may contribute to clogged pores. The comedogenic potential of physical sunscreen can vary depending on the specific formulation and ingredient used. Many modern physical sunscreens have been developed with advanced formulations that are less likely to clog pores and cause acne. If you are concerned about the comedogenic potential of physical sunscreen, it is a good idea to look for products that are labelled as “non-comedogenic” or “oil free”. But for people with sensitive skin, physical sunscreen may be a better choice due to their higher stability, less risk of penetrating the skin, thus less skin irritation and allergic contact dermatitis.
Chemical sunscreen has non-greasy texture and more robust defense against UV rays, which makes them more ideal for oily and acne prone skin.Otherwise, hybrid sunscreen combines the above two advantages, has less risk of allergic reaction, more comfortable and refreshing texture and is suitable for all skin types.
Sunscreen is a vital tool in the battle against the harmful effects of UV radiation from the sun. When selecting a sunscreen, you may notice the term SPF, which stands for sun protective factor. But what does this term actually mean?
In essence, the SPF indicates how many fold the sunscreen can delay the onset of redness on the skin caused by UV radiation.
For instance, if a person normally experiences redness after 10 minutes of sun exposure, applying a sunscreen with an SPF of 10 would extend that time frame to 100 minutes (10 minutes x 10 SPF). Besides, the higher the SPF you use, the better it is, because SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. However, it is important to note that this is only applicable if the standard amount of sunscreen, which is 2mg/cm2, is properly applied.
To maintain proper protection from the sun’s harmful rays, it is recommended to reapply sunscreen every 2 to 4 hours as it can break down due to water, sweat and chemicals. Moreover, the intensity of UV radiation can speed up the breakdown of UV absorber and dilution of physical blockers. To apply sunscreen effectively, you can follow the teaspoon rule, which suggest using ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) for face, neck and arms and 1 teaspoon (5ml) for anterior, posterior torso and legs.
We, RJ clinic has developed a sunblock named RJ SUNSHIELD + which effectively protects against UVA, UVB, blue light and infrared rays. Its non-greasy formula makes it ideal even for individuals with acne prone skin. In addition, this sunblock is enriched with sunflower extract, saccharide isomerate and Vitamin E, which provide up to 72 hours of hydration to the skin. This makes it a convenient two-in-one solution that acts as both a sunblock and a moisturizer, available in a single tube.
Given the difficulty that some individuals may encounter in adhering to the recommended daily application of topical sunscreen, oral sunscreens have emerged. One of them is Heliocare, which is comprised of polypodium leucotomos, derived from a South American fern species belonging to the Polypodiaceae family.
For many years, Polypodium leucotomos has been utilized for a myriad of dermatological conditions, such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, vitiligo, polymorphic light eruption, and melasma. The fern extract’s antioxidant properties reduce the cutaneous reactions induced by UV radiation and protect against oxidative DNA mutations, precluding the photodecomposition of endogenous photoprotective molecules and DNA, and enhancing DNA repair, thereby averting and amending solar damage, including skin cancer.
Nevertheless, it is important to highlight that oral sunscreen is not a substitute but rather a complementary measure to be utilised concomitantly with topical sunscreen for optimal sun protection.
There is also an oral supplement made to reverse pigmentation and UV damage-NanoMD.
NanoMD is a nano-particle drug developed by a multi-disciplinary team of world-class researchers. Beside its depigmenting and sun protecting action, NanoMD was clinically proven to support the overall condition of blood vessels, so that they can remain supple and flexible. The three main components of NanoMD are:
· Pycogenol- a pine bark extract with powerful antioxidant that provide protection to skin and maintain collagen level
· Tomato Phytoconcentrate- neutralise harmful effects of UV light
· L-Cysteine- stimulates collagen production and lightens pigments.
Skin aging consists of two independent processes: the first is chronological aging and affects skin in the same pattern it affects all our organs. The second is the result of external factors such as chronic sun exposure, poor nutrition and pollution. Skin pigment melanin becomes altered, its amount and distribution within the skin changes and makes aging noticeable.
In light of this, study showed that the consumption of NanoMD for a period of 90 days leads to a significant reduction in overall hyperpigmentation and melasma- an enduring dermatological concern characterised by dark, discoloured patches on the skin, which can have a considerable impact on one’s emotional well being. Other than that, NanoMD can also ameliorate the appearance of non-transient redness. Remarkably, this product exhibits tolerance with no reported incidence of adverse events or side effects.
This additional photoprotection provided is used in addition to topical protection. However, the systemic protection is quite different from that achieved with a topically applied sunscreen. Systemic photoprotection builds only slowly over several weeks.
One interesting question, does wearing sunscreen interfere with Vitamin D levels?
As we know, sunlight exposure is one of the most important sources of Vitamin D for the body. When skin is exposed to sunlight, it synthesizes Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) from a precursor molecule. Vitamin D3 is then converted to an active form of vitamin D in the liver and kidneys. Adequate Vitamin D is crucial for bone health
We also know the importance of sun protection cannot be overstated when it comes to preventing skin cancer and photoaging caused by UV radiation. However, some may be concerned that wearing sunscreen could interfere with their Vitamin D levels and potentially lead to Vitamin D deficiency.
It is true that if sunscreen is applied thick enough to effectively block sunlight, it can impede Vitamin D production in the skin. A thick layer is defined as roughly equivalent to about 1 ounce, or the size of one golf ball for the full body. However, in practical terms, most people apply less than this amount, which also means that the SPF they receive is lower than the labelled SPF. Hence, they may not have to worry about Vitamin D deficiency if they are not putting enough sunscreen on in the first place.
Nonetheless, individuals who generously apply sunscreen, wear hats and protective clothing when exposed to sunlight to reduce risk of skin cancer are more likely to experience Vitamin D deficiency.
It is worth noting that even with low levels of sunlight exposure, cumulative sun damage can occur over time, leading to DNA damage and an increased risk of skin cancer and photoaging. Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are the most common skin cancers in humans and are correlated with the degree of one’s sun exposure. On the other hand, melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is often the result of more intermittent, intense sun exposure. The solution to this dilemma is to balance the risks and benefits of sun protection and Vitamin D production.
Sounds like the use of sunscreen to prevent skin cancers caused by harmful UV radiation is of paramount importance and should take precedence over the desire to obtain Vitamin D from the sun. Nevertheless, the concerns regarding potential Vitamin D insufficiency can be alleviated by exploring alternative sources of this essential nutrient, such as supplements and food like salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, beef, shiitake mushrooms, egg yolks and fortified cereals. It is best to obtain Vitamin D from food sources each day rather than relying solely on sun exposure. This approach is simple and at the same time prevents detrimental effect of sun exposure.
Does skin colour affect absorption of UV ray?
Yes. Skin colour plays a role in how the skin responds to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Individuals with lighter skin tones possess fewer melanocytes, the skin cells responsible for producing melanin (the pigment that gives skin its colour). As a result, UV rays can easily penetrate through the skin layers, increasing the likelihood of painful sunburns and long-term damage to the skin’s DNA. Contrarily, individuals with darker skin tones are endowed with a higher melanocyte count, providing the skin with greater protection from the sun’s harmful radiation. While these individuals may not experience sunburn as frequently, they are more likely to experience tanning due to the increased melanin production.
This is also why people with fair skin are at higher risk of developing skin cancer.
However, it is essential to recognise that individuals with darker skin can still develop skin cancer, although their risk may be comparatively lower.
So, back to our initial topic- “is applying sunscreen a girly thing to do?” Absolutely no. Sunscreen application and skincare is not a gendered activity. Regardless of gender, you should protect your skin and be mindful of your skin health so that you can enjoy healthy, beautiful skin for years to come.