How to choose the best sunscreen for men?
Time and again, the importance of using sunscreen has been emphasized in various articles and researches. Why? Because the sun’s UV rays, especially UVA and UVB, can give way to many skin problems for example premature ageing and a lot worse – even skin cancer.
And, although men’s skin is considered thicker as compared to women’s, it can’t be spared from sun damage! Therefore, regardless of gender, one should swear by wearing sunscreen for all-year-round sun protection. But, before that, you ought to know the five things to consider before buying the best sunscreen for men.
In this article:
- What is the difference between sunscreen or sunblock, and which one to choose?
- What is broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen?
- SPF (Sun Protection Factor)
- What are the best ingredients in a sunscreen?
- Manufacturing and Expiration date
As per a recent study,
Regular sunscreen usage is helpful in the prevention of certain signs of skin photoaging, for instance, increased pigmentation or pigmentary abnormalities, and improve the overall skin radiance
‘An ideal sunscreen should be safe, chemically inert, non-irritating, non-toxic, photostable, and able to provide complete protection to the skin against damage from solar radiation’
Can Sunscreen Cause Vitamin D Deficiency?
Some people have a common misconception that the production of vitamin D is affected by using sunscreen. This is not true as there is an explanation of what is actually happening!
For those who are not aware of Vitamin D; it is also called the ‘sunshine vitamin’. It is useful for maintaining bone health and teeth along with the proper functioning of multiple other biological functions.
Rationally speaking- All it takes is just 5 minutes of sun exposure to get enough vitamin D. Also, if the sun’s rays enter the atmosphere at very inclined angles in the earlier and later parts of the day, the atmosphere blocks the UVB type of rays (essential for vitamin D production).
The main thing is- you are making Vitamin D for only a short period of time! As for the rest of the time, you’re just getting tanned or sun-burned. Therefore, it is safe to say that- Sunscreens are just lotions that prevent skin problems and increase your skin health.
If you are trying to buy a sunscreen and often struggle to find the best one for you with so many brands; given below are some pointers to look for before buying sunscreen.
‘Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with both, UVA and UVB coverage; water resistance, to indicate the time duration the sunscreen is effective; and sun protection factor (SPF). SPF-15 or higher is recommended and can be labeled as reducing the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.’
Let us understand about it in details below:
Difference between sunscreen or sunblock, & which one to choose?
Sunscreen and sunblock both protect against harmful sun rays. But, as the name suggests- Sunscreens are used to screen against UV rays and sunblocks help to block the UV rays, forming a physical shield against UV rays.
A sunscreen can either be physical or chemical whereas sunblock is always used to denote physical UV protection products. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays, transforming them into less damaging radiation. Ingredients like cinnamates, dibenzoyl methane, para-aminobenzoic acid and benzophenones may be a part of chemical sunscreens. On the other hand, physical sunscreens or sunblocks contain ingredients that reflect UV for example zinc and titanium oxide.
For more details on the same and to get a clear picture, read the table below:
Therefore, weighing the pros and cons of both, it is always advisable to try it out on a small area first to see whether you get any side effects (acne, irritation, etc.).
What is broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen?
You must have come across many sunscreens labelled as ‘broad-spectrum’ protection, but not sure what it means!
Simply put, a Broad-spectrum sunscreen provides protection from UVA and UVB exposure(Sunlight effect). This is crucial as UVA is the culprit behind long-term damage (wrinkles, premature aging) that causes melanomas and skin cancers while UVB causes sunburn and tanning.
Ingredients to look for in a broad-spectrum sunscreen- benzophenones (oxybenzone), cinnamates (octyl methyl cinnamate and cinoxate), sulisobenzone, salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone and ecamsule.
As for the products without a broad-spectrum activity, they must carry a warning that they only protect against sunburn, but not skin cancer or skin ageing.
If the list of ingredients baffles you, make sure that the sunscreen has a UV seal or PA symbol (Protection Grade of UVA rays), or basically a “broad” spectrum label.
SPF (Sun Protection Factor)
Sun Protection Factor aka SPF is a measure determine the effectiveness of a sunscreen in protecting your skin from UVB rays.
For dark skin, an SPF of 20 can be used and for fair or wheatish skin, SPF 30 can be used. However, dermatologists recommend using an SPF of at least 30 for full-protection. SPF 15 blocks about 93 per cent of UVB rays, whereas SPF 30 blocks about 97 per cent of UVB rays. Also, higher SPF numbers do mean more protection, but the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes.
Let’s take a look at the below graph for more detailed information regarding SPF number and amount of protection:
For easy understanding as to how long an SPF provides sun protection- In people with sensitive skin, which starts burning in about 10 minutes of sun exposure, putting on a sunscreen with SPF 15 will save you from the sun for approximately 150 minutes without burning.
No sunscreen protects you completely (no 100% protection). For maximum protection, always reapply during the day, wear protective clothing (hats, sun-protective swimwear, clothing, etc.) and seek shade.
No matter what your skin type, look out for SPF of 30 or higher broad-spectrum sunscreen.
What are the best ingredients in a sunscreen?
Make a habit to read the label before buying. As some ‘XYZ’ sunscreen worked its wonders on your friend, that doesn’t mean it will be beneficial for you as well!
Always be vigilant to read the label and look for ingredients that suit your skin.
List of ingredients to look for
UVA absorbers: Ecamsule, Avobenzone, Meradimate
UVB absorbers: Cinoxate, Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), Ensulizole, Octocrylene, Homosalate, Octinoxate, Octisalate,
UVA and UVB absorbers: Dioxybenzone, Sulisobenzone
Just remember- Not all ingredients can suit your skin and may cause allergies and disrupt your hormones. For example – Titanium dioxide or zinc oxide is added for protection, but they can be quite damaging for your skin as well.
If you have sensitive skin, it is safe to avoid aphelia and alcoholic ingredients.
Manufacturing and Expiration date
Using sunscreen beyond its expiry date is no good! So, one should check the date of manufacture and expiry when buying sunscreen to avoid mistakes that people generally do.
One pro tip: Always buy which has its manufacturing date nearby to the present day, as fresh products are more effective.
If your bottle of sunscreen is not over yet, is it still worth using it?
An older product, for instance, whose manufacturing date is of a year ago may not provide you with suitable protection that sunscreen has to offer. Using an expired date product can give way to any allergic reactions or symptoms, the company is not liable for the same.
Do not use a product beyond its expiration date, buy a new sunscreen indeed!
- Apply sunscreen about 10-15 minutes before stepping out in the sun
- Reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours to prolong sun protection
- A water-based sunscreen is best suited for oily and acne-prone skin types
- Water-resistant sunscreen is effective for about 40-80 minutes in water. So make sure to re-apply, once you are out
- Use a hat, sunglasses and cotton clothes for added benefit
- Be sure to apply the sunscreen on all areas- between the toes and fingers, behind ears, and the back of the neck
- Sun rays are most harmful between 11 am to 3 pm. So, it’s better to avoid the sun during this time
Considering the above-mentioned points, it can be useful to find the best sunscreen gel SPF 50 that is tailored for your personal needs