Necessity or not: Is sunscreen necessary for Indian skin? | Fashion Trends - Hindustan Times
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Necessity or not: Is sunscreen necessary for Indian skin?

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
May 10, 2024 07:47 AM IST

With melanin offering some inherent protection against UV radiation, some say that sunscreen may not be essential for those with darker skin tones. Is it true?

Skin doctors and beauty experts often encounter the question on the necessity of sunscreen for Indian skin as with melanin offering some inherent protection against UV radiation, there is a prevalent misconception that sunscreen may not be essential for those with darker skin tones. However, skincare experts insist that the reality is far more nuanced.

Necessity or not: Is sunscreen necessary for Indian skin? (Image by Freepik)
Necessity or not: Is sunscreen necessary for Indian skin? (Image by Freepik)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Saru Singh, Aesthetic Physician and Consultant, shared, “It's crucial to understand that while melanin does provide some natural defense against the sun's harmful rays, it's not sufficient to fully protect the skin from damage. UV radiation can still penetrate the skin, leading to various adverse effects such as sunburn, premature ageing and an increased risk of skin cancer. Moreover, not all Indian skin tones are equally equipped with melanin. Individuals with lighter skin tones may have less melanin and therefore be more susceptible to sun damage. Additionally, factors such as geographical location, altitude and time spent outdoors all influence the intensity of UV exposure, further emphasizing the need for sun protection.”

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She added, “Furthermore, the misconception that sunscreen is unnecessary for Indian skin can lead to complacency and neglect of sun protection practices. This can have detrimental consequences in the long run, as cumulative sun exposure can significantly increase the risk of skin cancer and other dermatological issues. Sunscreen serves as a crucial tool in the prevention of various skin ailments. It forms a protective barrier against UV radiation, reducing the risk of sunburn, photoaging, and skin cancer. Regular use of sunscreen, along with other sun protection measures such as wearing protective clothing and seeking shade during peak sun hours, is imperative for maintaining skin health and preventing sun-related damage.”

Dr Saru Singh advised, “It's essential to choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Reapplication of sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if sweating or swimming, is also crucial to ensure adequate protection throughout the day. Sunscreen is indeed necessary for Indian skin, regardless of melanin levels or skin tone. Incorporating sunscreen into your daily skincare routine is a simple yet effective way to safeguard your skin against the harmful effects of UV radiation and maintain optimal skin health for years to come.”

Asserting that sunscreen is absolutely crucial for Indian skin, just as it is for any other skin type, Sunil Agarwal, Founder and Chairman of Joy Personal Care (RSH Global), said, “Regardless of ethnicity, your skin is vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV radiation. It's vital to protect your natural beauty from the sweltering heat and humidity, which can wreak havoc on your skin, leading to irritation and dreaded sunburns. Your skin requires consistent care throughout the year, regardless of the weather. During summers, sunscreen plays a pivotal role in shielding your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays, preventing sunburn, dark spots, and pigmentation. A consistent skincare routine tailored to your skin's needs is essential to combat these challenges and maintain skin health.”

He revealed, “The cardinal rule of skincare is keeping the skin hydrated. It is always beneficial to use skincare products that pack in multiple benefits for the skin. Wearing sunscreen daily is recommended. Mornings are a fresh start and your skincare routine sets the tone for the day ahead. After cleaning your face with a gentle face wash infused with citric or natural ingredients like lemon, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF. Additionally, opting for a tinted sunscreen with added coverage can further protect the skin, evening out the skin tone, and making it an excellent addition to any skincare routine, whether in summer or winter.”

Bringing her expertise to the same, Deepali Bansal, CEO and Founder at Suroskie, highlighted a number of reasons why Indian skin is more vulnerable to UV radiation from the sun -

  • India's population is exposed to high levels of UV radiation all year round due to its proximity to the equator. Skin damage, early ageing, and a higher risk of skin cancer can result from prolonged exposure to UV radiation. By creating a shield against these harmful rays, sunscreen helps to avoid sunburns and long-term damage.
  • Hyperpigmentation or darkening of particular skin areas because of excessive melanin production is very common in Indian skin types. Melasma and uneven skin tones are caused by sun exposure. If you apply sunscreen every day, this will help prevent hyperpigmentation from getting darker and lower the chance of developing new pigmentation problems.
  • Overexposure to the sun speeds up photoaging, causing fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin to emerge earlier than they should. By protecting the skin's suppleness and delaying the emergence of wrinkles, regular usage of sunscreen helps reduce the negative effects of UV radiation and eventually promote a more youthful appearance.

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