Sunscreen – what you need to know……..

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Article contributed by:
Dr Ch’ng Chin Chwen
Consultant Dermatologist
Subang Jaya Medical Centre

1. Why is applying sunscreen important?

Sunscreen is the most important skincare product. If you can only afford one skincare product, choose a good sunscreen. Sunscreen protects our skin from harmful sun rays and reduces skin cancer risk. It reduces the flare-up of most skin problems from acne, eczema to rosacea. Not to mention when skin damage is reduced, we are reducing pigmentation, wrinkles and skin sagging.

2. Do I still have to apply sunscreen while indoors?

Yes, particularly if you have large windows or indoor fluorescent lighting.

3. How to choose the right sunscreen?

  • Go for broad-spectrum protection with high protection value, water-resistant/ sweat resistant.
  • Consider sunscreen with added antioxidants.
  • Consider tinted sunscreen.
  • Pick a texture that is comfortable for you.
  • If you have acne-prone skin, go for non-comedogenic formula.
  • If you have sensitive skin, go for a physical sunscreen (mineral sunscreen) which is fragrance and alcohol-free.
  • If you swim or are wearing sunscreen doing strenuous activities involving profuse sweating, go for chemical sunscreen.

4. What is a physical sunscreen?

Physical sunscreen is also known as mineral sunscreen. It sits on the skin surface to reflect the sun rays that reach the skin surface. Examples of ingredients that make up physical sunscreen are zinc oxide, titanium oxide, and iron oxide. This is opposed to a chemical sunscreen that absorbs into the skin and absorbs sun rays. Examples of chemical ingredients include oxtinoxate and oxybenzone.

5. Is physical sunscreen better than chemical sunscreen?

Both have their pros and cons. Physical sunscreen is less irritating and more suitable for sensitive skin, pregnant women and children. However, it can feel heavy and leave a white cast. Chemical sunscreen may not be suitable for people with sensitive skin but it is sweat and water-resistant. As it quickly absorbs into the skin, it feels light and often more pleasant. Many sunscreens in the market have a mixture of both physical and chemical ingredients.

6. Is sunscreen with a biodegradable formula good?

While we want products that are good for our skin, we must also choose products that are good for our environment as well. This is particularly important for eco-conscious people who love mother nature, for example, those who go scuba diving and jungle trek very often.

7. How to apply sunscreen correctly?

Apply sunscreen in the morning, reapply, re-apply and re-apply. Layer on and do not wash your face in-between applications. We can’t apply too much sunscreen because it breakdown continuously and we rub it off whenever we touch our skin.

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