The skin serves various functions that include acting as the body’s initial barrier against germs, UV light, chemicals and mechanical injury. It also maintains body temperature and prevents water loss from the body.
What Is Sunscreen, And How Does It Work?
Sunscreen, screens (or blocks) harmful UV rays from reaching your skin. In other words, sunscreen acts like a shade you carry with you on your skin.
Since UV rays are a well-known trigger for melasma, pigmentation and can make hyperpigmentation darker, applying sunscreen can help prevent melasma from flaring up and hyperpigmentation from getting worse.
Chemical Blockers Vs. Physical Blockers: What’s The Difference?
Sunscreens come in two main varieties:
- Physical blockers are sunscreens that physically block the sun’s rays from reaching your skin whilst also absorbing some of the UV rays. If you’ve seen old pictures of people on the beach with a white paint-like substance on their noses, this was probably a physical blocker at work.
- Chemical blockers, on the other hand, use nanoparticles that absorb harmful UV rays.
Which one should you use?
Although both are effective at stopping UV rays, physical blockers such as Zinc Oxide are able to block both UVA and UVB rays. At least a physical sunscreen component is thus recommended but to ensure a more holistic 360degree protection, a combination of both Physical and Chemical sunscreen components would be ideal.
What is hyperpigmentation and how do you get it?
Hyperpigmentation is dark patches on the skin triggered by inflammation due to trauma to the skin, acne, UV damage etc.
Darker skin types are more likely to develop hyperpigmentation from acne and trauma to the skin (eg. picking at pimples etc). All skin types develop pigment as part of the aging process, but usually more freckle-type splotches are seen in lighter skin types and more overall unevenness are seen in darker skin types.
How is hyperpigmentation different from melasma or dark spots?
They are all from the same umbrella of skin conditions called Pigmentation. A dermatologist or Medical Aesthetic Doctor can help you distinguish exactly the type of Pigmentation that you have. But one thing in common to help prevent Pigmentation, for all skin types, is by using sunscreen.
What kind of relationship does sunscreen have with hyperpigmentation?
Sunscreen plays a huge role in helping to prevent Pigmentation. It prevents the accumulation of photodamage that leads to brown spots and PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation).
Your skin cells respond to UV light by producing more melanin as a self-protective mechanism, and Sunscreens block the UV rays that injures the cells. All pigment, including a tan, is a sign of damage and injury. You can’t ever get a totally fresh start for skin once that happens, so you should set yourself up for a lifetime of better skin by using Sunscreen every day. Using sunscreen is absolutely preventative and pays dividends for brighter, clearer skin for a lifetime.
What kind of sunscreen should people look for if they have Pigmentation?
All you need to look for is one that contains at least SPF 30 and is broad spectrum so that you are protecting yourself from not only UVB rays, but also UVA rays (the ones that can penetrate windows/glass and cause more skin damage).