While most Indian men are not afraid of the scorching summer heat, studies show multiple reasons to avoid direct exposure to the sun. Sweating and tanning may seem like minor problems that can be treated but issues like sunburn, skin cancer and premature skin ageing need precaution.
We cannot avoid the sun altogether. It boosts mental health and is a source of vitamin D.
However, stepping out in the hot summer, especially after a lockdown due to the pandemic, can be overwhelming for your body. Even though most men do not have a regular self-care routine, applying sunscreen or sunblock before stepping out has several benefits.
1. Protections against UV rays: because of the earth’s rising temperature due to the depleting ozone layer, I think it’s safe to agree it’s too much heat out there. Sunscreen works as a protective layer and reduces the penetration of harmful UV rays. In turn, it reduces the chances of getting a sunburn.
2. Even Skin tone: Regular application of sunscreen helps in preventing excess tanning or discolouration. It makes up for healthy, smooth skin.
3. Prevents skin cancer and other long-term disorders: With consistent use of sunscreen, the skin remains hydrated and prevents skin disorders from happing in the future, which may sometimes take a decade or two show visible symptoms.
4. Moisturizing the skin: Sunscreens can also double up as moisturizers for men that hydrates the skin and provides a supple look.
How to choose sunscreen for men?
Finding the product that best suits your skin and lifestyle is a work of trial and error. However, here is a crash course on the few terms you should know to filter out the ones you do not need.
Difference between sunblock and sunscreen: The main difference between sunblock and sunscreen is its chemical components. A sunscreen lotion is made of organic compounds such as octyl methoxycinnamate, octyl salicylate, and ecamsule. They need to be rubbed on the skin and work by chemically reacting with the UV rays and converting it to heat, and then it is released. Sunblock, however, use mineral ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that physically block the UV rays. These are visible when applied and works as a shield against the sun. It avoids sunburns by blocking the UVB rays. Even though sunscreen generally works against UVA rays, the newer products work against UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreens don’t leave a mark and come in various forms like gel, cream, spray etc. In general, sunscreen is better; with its wide application and so many products for everyone with different skin types and issues, sunscreen is the go-to option.
Sunscreen SPF value: Sun protection factor is the degree of how efficient the sunscreen is when you are exposed to the harmful UV rays from the sun.
For example, let’s say your skin can tolerate the sun for 10 minutes without sun protection. With a sunscreen of protection factor 30 (SPF 30), it can endure the sun for 300 minutes. However, sunscreen may tend to wear off due to rubbing or sweating. That is the reason why there are products available for different skin types and activities. Some are water-resistant, and some add moisture to the skin.
The right formula: A great deal of time is spent deciding whether you need sweat-proof or waterproof sunscreen. The most common ones you see may be rub-proof, and this is what you’ll need if you work at a store. Waterproof sunscreens are best for swimmers or going to the beach. Depending on how much you sweat, opt for a sweat-proof sunscreen. But the varying SPF number determine how regularly you need to reapply the product. Some gel products come in fine form as well. So, it does not weigh on the skin or have any distinct fragrance.
Skin type: For men with oily skin, the best-suited products are the ones with gel or matte texture. A sunscreen for oily skin is not as greasy as cream and prevents acne. Men should try the hypoallergenic formula or the one with mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium oxide for sensitive, dry skin types. These have sunblock-like capabilities, but they blend in with the skin and don’t leave a patch.
It’s always a good rule to avoid products with harmful ingredients like sulphates, paraben, oxybenzone and mineral oils. Allergic skin reaction due to sunscreen is the last thing you want. SO, choose products with mineral oils and natural sunscreen ingredients.
Does sunscreen over SPF30 work?
If SPF values are compared, SPF 15 gives 93% protection, SPF 30 gives 97%, and SPF 30 gives 98% saving. In other words, higher SPF numbers provide higher protection and reduce the chances of long-term skin disorders, but no product can provide 100% protection.
Reapplying sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours is still a must.
Here is why SPF 30 is the sweet spot and the most commonly preferred. Since it’s a commodity that you will use regularly, it takes a slot in your monthly budget. You need to use the same amount and reapply every couple of hour, whether it’s SPF 30 or 50. The general male public who works at the office, garage or stores barely spends any time indoors except travelling. Sunscreen or moisturizers with SPF 30 provides enough protection to go out for an hour or two.
For strenuous activities and spending 5 or 6 hours outdoors, the beach or viewing a sports match, going on a tour etc., this is when you opt for that extra SPF 50 protection or choose products with an even higher value.
In general, less than 18% of men use sunscreen regularly. Though it may be perceived as ‘girly’ and unnecessary for men, studies show that men are in more danger than women as more men are seen employed in outdoor work. The false notion that ‘sunscreens are cosmetic products’ is a silly excuse to avoid it.
Today, sunscreen for men is a separate category, and tons of options are available for various skin types and men with numerous preferences.
To conclude, choose a product with the label ‘broad spectrum’ protection that works against UVA and UVB rays. Reapply the product if you spend more than two hours in the sun and opt for a product close to SPF 30.