Whether you’re headed for a beach vacation in the Maldives or simply going outdoors on a sunny day in Singapore, wearing sunscreen on a daily basis is vital, says dermatologist Dr Li-Chuen Wong.

higher SPF numbers

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“UVA and UVB rays are emitted all year round. Even on a cloudy day, there is 80 per cent penetration of UV rays to the earth’s surface,” she explains.

SPF (sun protection factor) measures how long it takes for redness to appear on the skin, as compared to when zero product is used. It is important to note that SPF numbers only refer to UVB, which represents about five per cent of the ultraviolet spectrum and is responsible for most of the sunburn. The other 95 per cent is UVA, which causes photo-ageing, pigmentation and the development of skin cancers.

However, there are huge misconceptions about SPF, such as a product with a higher SPF level offers dramatically better protection or allows you to spend a greater amount of time in the sun.

Interestingly, this isn’t exactly the case.

Use this as a guide:

  • SPF30+ sunscreens filter about 96.7 per cent of UV radiation, while SPF50+ sunscreens provide slightly better protection at 98 per cent.  
  • Opt for a broad-spectrum formula – these protect your skin by absorbing or blocking both UVA and UVB rays – and apply it 30 minutes prior to sun exposure.
  • Also, reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

Read on for more important tips!

Don’t Forget Your Scalp And Hair

If UV protection is so important for your skin, surely it’s equally crucial for your hair and scalp as well. In fact, the latter is skin too, and thus prone to sun damage and premature ageing like the rest of your body.

And while your hair offers some shielding from harmful UV rays, it comes at the cost of frizzy, dry and limp strands, damaged follicles and colour fade (if you have dyed hair).

Prevent your locks from losing their softness and shine by applying hair sunscreen before going outdoors. Spray it at your roots and rub it in so that your scalp gets protected too. Click here to discover the best hair products that offer UV protection and keep your mane strong, shiny and healthy. 

Not sure how strong UV rays are?

Take the shadow test! If you’re unsure whether to move indoors, use your shadow as a guide. Is it shorter than you? If the answer is yes, the sun’s UV rays are strong. Take cover or don protective layers.

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Text: Bauer / Additional Reporting: Elizabeth Liew
Photos: Pexels