Updated: Apr 8
We all know that it is absolutely essential to use a sunscreen in sunny days. But what about the days when its cloudy or raining outside? Do the clouds cut out the harmful UV rays? Can you skip applying (and reapplying) sunscreen during monsoon? Keep reading to know the answers to these burning (or raining) questions.
Before we head over to answering your questions, first let's understand how the sun can harm your skin. The sunrays are composed of a very wide spectrum of rays, ranging from ultraviolet to visible and infrared light waves.
While infrared and a majority of visible radiations are virtually harmless for skin, it is the ultraviolet radiations that are responsible for damaging the skin. As the wavelength of rays decreases from infrared to visible and visible to ultraviolet, the energy of these radiations increases, making ultraviolet rays capable of penetrating the upper layers of skin.
An unchecked exposure to the ultraviolet radiations can cause skin darkening, redness, skin burning, inflammation, and in worst cases, skin cancers!
Now, to answer your question of whether you should apply a sunscreen during monsoon season, the answer is YES! You might want to go on a vacation when it rains, but the sun won't. The sun is still there, even when it's hidden by a veil of clouds or rain. These ultraviolet and visible radiations can easily penetrate even a thick layer of clouds. Therefore, regardless of the climate, scourging sunny, pleasantly cloudy, rainy, or even foggy and freezing cold, you should always have your sunscreen with you.
However, many of us find it unpleasant to use sticky sunscreens in this season due to the humid climate. Despite the presence of such a wide variety of sunscreens in market, it is often very confusing for consumers to pick the right sunscreen for their skin type. We must realize that when it comes to sunscreens, one skin type might require different types of sunscreens depending upon the weather.
Now, let's discuss the list of mandatory ingredients that your sunscreen must have.
As a thumb rule, in monsoons it is ideal to opt for a gel-based broad-spectrum chemical or combination (chemical + physical) sunscreen. A broad spectrum sunscreen would cover both UVA and UVB radiation blockage. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of UVB shielding, with an SPF of 30 to 50 being an ideal range. 'PA' on the other hand stands for 'protection grade for UVA'. If your sunscreen packaging says that it has a PA +++ or PA ++++ grading then it provides a good coverage against UVA. Recently, several sunscreens with a mild grade of protection against the visible radiations have also been launched.
This is the gel based sunscreen that I regularly use:
Another gel based sunscreen that I use is:
Whenever, you are buying a chemical sunscreen always look for ingredients like octinoxate, octisalate, avobenzone, octocrylene and homosalate. The sunscreen must have at least one or more of these ingredients. However, if you are into physical sunscreens it is imperative that they contain either zinc oxide or titanium oxide or iron oxide.
Although I prefer gel based sunscreens over others, here is the physical sunscreen that I use at times:
Now, as far as the frequency of application is concerned, regardless of the SPF you must re-apply your sunscreen every 3 hours during the day time, over all the exposed body parts in generous amounts.