South Asians and Sunscreen: How Much Do We Need?

by Guest Blogger Maleeha Khan

Wearing sunscreen is kind of like taking vitamins. We know we’re supposed to be religious about it, but how many of us do it? Every single day? And because we’re desi, do we get some sort of free pass because our skin can be a bit darker?

While we’ve all read countless articles that warn us of the dangers of sun exposure, and are well aware by now that it can lead to wrinkles, sun spots, and even cancer, there’s a lesser known downside to skipping the SPF: the sabotage it does to your beauty routine. Some of the active ingredients in many serums, anti-aging creams, and acne treatments on the market can actually make your skin more sun-sensitive, so even if the products are doing their job, you might not be getting much out of them. By not protecting your skin, you could be rendering all those fancy, face-saving (not to mention expensive) ingredients ineffective.

Retinol, benzoyl peroxide, AHAs and BHAs, including glycolic acid and salicylic acid, skin lighteners such as kojic acid, and even some oral medications have been shown to increase photosensitivity. This doesn’t mean you should toss your favorite products. Complement them with sun protection. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of at least 15. While finding an effective sunscreen that doesn’t clog pores or interfere with makeup might seem impossible, today’s formulations are much lighter and more suitable for everyday use. There is something out there that’s right for everyone – promise. Here are a couple of tried-and-true options to start with:

Laura Mercier Flawless Skin Daily Face Shield SPF 40

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This liquid formula glides on smoothly, doesn’t feel heavy, and won’t cause breakouts. It also works exceptionally well with makeup. Shake well before applying.

SkinCeuticals Daily Sun Defense SPF 30

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This cream formulation also acts as a light moisturizer. The finish is slightly dewy, but not greasy, and won’t disturb makeup. Remember, 20 minutes of sun exposure a day is enough to warrant sunscreen, even on an overcast day, so make sure you have some level of protection.

SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense with SPF 50

Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50 | Best Sunscreen for Face | SkinCeuticals

If you’ve been extra vigilant about applying your skincare products and know you’ll be in the sun for a prolonged period, you may want to protect it with something heavier, like a physical sunscreen. These sunscreens physically block UV radiation with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which sit on top of the skin, acting as a barrier. This product feels ultra light for a physical block and dries to a matte finish. Shake well and pour out sparingly, as this formula can be a bit runny.

Is there a sunscreen that you swear by? Tell us about it on our Facebook page!

Disclaimer: Check with your dermatologist before listening to us. 

Melanoma Foundation, FDA, WebMD


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