Sunscreen is the best protection from the sun. Picture: Pexels / rfstudio
Sunscreen is the best protection from the sun. Picture: Pexels / rfstudio

A guide to all your sunscreen needs

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Nov 24, 2020

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Staying out of the sun to protect your skin can be difficult, especially during summer days when all you want to do is go to the beach or spend more time outdoors.

What's the best thing we have to protect the surface of our skin and the many layers underneath? Sunscreen.

Why is sunscreen important? Dr Bradley Wagemaker, a medical director at Lamelle, says sunlight has tremendous benefits for the most part and, as humans spending time in the sun, we should be aware of the “darker” side of sunshine. Picture a rainbow, it is white light that has been split into its component colours.

“Sunlight is very similar in principle, it also has seven types of radiation (like the colours of a rainbow), you just can't see them all. The issue is that of the seven subtypes of radiation in sunlight, two of them are extremely harmful to living cells in the outer layers of skin.”

Wagemaker also explains that excessive exposure to those types of radiation energy has been shown to damage the skin immunity, kill skin cells, cause DNA mutations leading to cancer and rapidly accelerate the rate at which our skins age.

“As a result, sunscreen is a special product that is able to ‘absorb’ the harmful energy out of sunlight before it reaches our skin. There are limits to this protection, however, and some sunscreen products have been further ‘engineered’ to provide even greater protection,” says Wagemaker.

Here is a guide on your ultimate skin protection this summer from dermatologist, Dr Lushen Pillay.

Beach suncreen protection

What you should look for when buying sunscreen for the beach?

Use an easy to apply preparation which is usually spray-on products. Medical brands are always better than the usual cosmetic ones. Use them liberally and regularly while on the beach. Every 1 to 2 hours for direct sun exposure.

The best time to apply sunscreen for the beach?

30 minutes before sun exposure.

How often should you apply it? Try to reapply it every 1 to 2 hours while on the beach. Of course, use other barriers like sun hats and sleeves.

Outdoors sunscreen protection

The best protection for outdoors

When should you apply it?

30 minutes before going out. Use a product that is water resistant and does not burn the eyes.

Reapply sunscreen regularly. Try to not wipe off sweat too vigorously as this can remove the sunscreen protection. Always use an SPF 50+.

Kids sunscreen protection

What type of sunscreen should parents look for?

Use products that are for sensitive skin and don’t burn the eyes.

How often should the kids apply it?

If outdoors then every 2 to 3 hours, otherwise once or twice a day. Always use an SPF30+.

Everyday use

Why should you use sunscreen every day?

The UV index for SA is generally high and skin cancer is directly linked to sun exposure. Ageing and photo damage is also worse in SA than most other countries. We can’t do anything about genetics, but applying sunscreen is something we can do to prevent skin cancer, which is the commonest cancer.

What you should know about your everyday sunscreen?

Use a high SPF. Use a doctor-recommended medical brand. Avoid greasy preparations and look for a vehicle or preparation that suits you best. Lighter gels and sprays are popular.

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