To skip sunscreen during the monsoons is one of the biggest skincare mistakes of the season. Look around you: the monsoons may be upon our heads, but it’s not as though it’s darkness all around, is it? (Barring a few exceptional days, maybe). Angry, black clouds may be hovering over, but how many of us actually celebrate the monsoons? All we end up doing, realistically, is praying that the clouds would part, and the sun would shine!

The misconception:

Clouds block sunlight, but not the harmful UV radiation. Even if they do, it’s only upto 20%. You’re still vulnerable to the effects of the remainder 80%. Science points out that UV rays have the capacity to bounce off clouds, which, means they can hit you with greater concentration. This focussed intensity may vary, depending on cloud thickness, and ‘spread’ across the sky, but it’s this very inconsistency which dictates that you should have sunscreen applied to all exposed parts of your body, as an all-day buffer.

Point to be noted:

You need sunscreen when you’re on the beach, yes. But you’d need it also when it’s snowing, or if you’re relaxing by a beautiful water body like a lake. All of these act like mirrors and reflect the sun’s rays, bouncing them back at you from all angles, increasing your exposure to them.

The mistake: Narrowing down the competency of sunscreen to just ‘colour protection’.

You tend to think, “It’s not sunny, and even if it is, it’s not that bad that I would get tanned, so I don’t need sunscreen when it’s raining.”

Sunscreen doesn’t only protect you from tanning and sunburn. It shields you from more long-standing harm, like skin cancer, premature skin ageing, wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation, and sun spots. Daily application of sunscreen therefore becomes a maintenance regime, whereby your skin would thank you in the long run, for the little bit you did every day to keep it safe and healthy.

What kind of sunscreen for the monsoons?

  • Water-resistant ones, for obvious reasons!

  • Choose gel-based or spray sunscreens if you have acne-prone skin. They tend to be more lightweight, and have mattifying effects, which makes the skin look clean and even. Also, you don’t want your skin too look ‘oiled’ after application. Monsoon humidity makes skin a tad greasy anyway, so you don’t want to aggravate the situation.

  • Cream-based sunscreens and lotions suit those with dry skin, as they provide the necessary protection against radiation, as well as requisite moisture.

  • Regardless of skin type, opt for broad-spectrum sunscreens, with a minimum of SPF 30. You need protection against both, UV-A, and UV-B radiation. Whilst the former causes pigmentation and ageing, the latter causes, burns, tanning, and cancer.

  • Check the ingredients list of your sunscreen pack/bottle for ‘chemical’ barriers, like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate. These are toxic hormone disruptors, that interfere with endocrine and thyroid functioning, causing reduced sperm count in men and endometriosis in women. The fact that they make it to the manufacturing table for skin products, and get approval by the necessary bodies, is alarming in it’s own right.

Bottom Line:

It’s not always easy to make expedited efforts to remedy lifestyle issues, or diseases, when they emerge. In some cases, it’s too late. Sunscreen isn’t the be-all-end-all answer to skin care issues, but it’s certainly crucial and indispensable. If you take time out for a proper skin-type consultation, and the ideal sunscreen for it, you’d be doing a little that would go a long way; to protect yourself from subtle, slow, but harmful changes to your skin health, texture, and age.