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How to read the label of your sunscreen?

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Top 10 tips to help you search for the best sunscreen most suited to your skin and its needs.

Sunscreens are the best skin care product for your skin. If your sunscreen works well, that is 50% of the job done for setting up your skincare routine.

Let us check out the main product features, which can easily pick out the best sunscreen for you.

1. UVB protection – this is easily identified from the SPF number mentioned on the label. For Indian skin types, and in general, an SPF of 30 is adequate for protection from skin ageing and skin cancer prevention.

Sunscreens with SPF 30+

2. UVA protection – this would be seen on the label as the words U, V and A, with a ring around it. You can also look for the PA rating and the number of + symbols next to it. The more the numbers of + symbol, the better it is for UVA protection. Minimum should be 3 +++ for Indian skin type.

Sunscreen with UVA protection

3. Your sunscreen should not give you acne. Look for the non-comedogenic label on your sunscreen. Sunscreens with the noncomedogenic feature would have been clinically tested to not cause acne in the majority of people.

Non comedogenic sunscreen

4. Now, it is time to look closely at the UV filters in your sunscreen. Physical sunscreens will have only zinc or titanium in their list of ingredients. Chemical sunscreens contain UV filters like octocrylene, octinoxate, avobenzone, BMDM, Bisoctrizole, Bimotrizinol and so on. For a deeper understanding of chemical and physical filters, please check out Dr Renita Rajan’s episode on sunscreens in her Exposome Channel.

Sunscreen ingredients

5. If you are looking for a pregnancy-safe sunscreen, nursing-safe sunscreen or the best sunscreen for children, look for a product feature on the sunscreen label that specifically mentions that the sunscreen is indeed safe for pregnant, nursing mothers and children.

Pregnancy and nursing safe sunscreen

The best pregnancy-safe sunscreen should ideally contain only the mineral filters, and even among these, non-nano grade zinc is preferred over titanium and nano zinc.

6. If you are looking for the best sunscreens for sports, look for the water resistance feature in the product description. Water and sweat resistance is considered to be equivalent according to the US FDA guidelines, and this can give you a fair idea of how long the sunscreen will last on the skin.

Water and sweat resistance sunscreen

7. If you are looking for the best organic sunscreen, well, the truth is that chemical sunscreens are based on chemical filters, which automatically are synthetic substances. Even though they are called inorganic metal filters, zinc and titanium are considered natural substances. So, if you want a sunscreen with the highest possible natural content, the best sunscreen to obtain is a mineral sunscreen containing zinc or titanium oxides.

Organic sunscreen

8. For eco-conscious individuals, there is a further step that you can go to narrow down the best sunscreen. Even if you are using a mineral filter, look for the non-nano feature, which helps reduce the impact of sunscreen particles on our ecosystem to a large extent. You can also look at long wear or durable sunscreens, which work to reduce the application frequency and, therefore, lesser product load on the ecosystem!

Reef safe sunscreen

9. Antioxidants! Sunscreens can be made to work better by adding on certain antioxidants which can stretch their coverage of the light spectrum. For instance, SAFESCREENs Munnar and Charminar contain Polypodium and Pycnogenol respectively, which can protect the skin from UV, IR and visible light, including the blue light spectrum. A broad spectrum sunscreen is the best sunscreen for Indian skin that is exposed to both high UV, high IR and lifestyle-related exposure to lights from gadgets.

Sunscreen with antioxidants

10. Always check the basics – expiry date and use conditions. And make sure to follow them. Sunscreens work best when they are used in the correct way, and even the best sunscreen in the whole world will only be able to work well for you if you use it in the right way – regularly, properly and consistently!

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