If you, like most people in the world, are social distancing in the comfort and safety of your homes (or enjoying a workation), there’s a good chance that your skincare routine has been altered to suit your skin’s indoor needs, or the city you’re in. While the basic C-T-M routine remains unchanged, you may just be skipping a few steps (read: sunscreen), when looking after your skin.
Of course, this begs the questions: is that wise, given that research shows that we’re susceptible to sun damage even when staying indoors? Dr Sunil Kumar Prabhu, senior consultant, dermatology and aesthetic physician, Aster RV Hospital and Aster Clinics, says, “Ultraviolet (UV) rays are harmful components of sunlight that damage the skin over time. People with more melanin content have more protection against these harmful radiations but over time are equally susceptible to the harmful effects as people with lesser melatonin. This makes protection against sun damage an important part of one’s skincare routine.”
In fact, Dr Prabhu says that about 60 minutes of sun exposure is adequate to get the required amount of vitamin D, ideally while the sun is at a lower peak (between 8 am and 10 am or post 4 pm).
Sunscreen Vs SunblockNow that slowly and surely, we’re all stepping out of our homes for various reasons or emergencies, applying some amount of protection to fight sun damage is necessary. But if you’re not sure which will provide you with the right kind of protection, you’re probably going to end up picking something that doesn’t suit your skin’s needs. Understanding the difference between a sunscreen and a sunblock can go a long way. Dr Prabhu elaborates, “Sunblock is formulated to deflect harmful UV rays whereas sunscreen absorbs them. Both are effective. Products in the market today offer a mix of both. However, it is best to create barriers between the skin and the sun. Although people believe that only putting sunblock is enough to protect the skin, this is not true. Sunblock provides a primary layer of protection against the sun, but it is also beneficial to wear clothing that covers the skin, or use a shield like an umbrella when spending a long time outdoors.” However, he advises that one should read the label before choosing a sunscreen as certain chemical ones may contain carcinogens, and instead recommends physical sunscreens which contain micronised zinc oxide which are considered safe for the skin.
Is Sun Protection Needed Indoors?Your workday is unlike it used to be—you don’t just roll out of bed, hop in the shower, dress, and drive to work anymore. It most likely includes rolling out of bed, hopping into your shower, changing into comfortable clothes, and heading to your home office or designated work nook. But are you really taking care of your skin even if you’re not really stepping out of your house? While glass effectively blocks most UV rays, it doesn’t block all in equal measure. Research shows that UVA rays are linked to ageing and wear and tear of skin cells, leading to wrinkles, sunspots, and other visible signs of sun damage. However, UVB rays are stronger and is said directly damage the DNA in skin cells. UVB rays are also the principal cause of sunburns and are linked to most skin cancers. Dr Prabhu elaborates, “While it is impractical to wear sunscreen indoors, if you work in an area that allows access to sun’s harmful UV radiation, it is good to invest in curtains or reconsider the seating arrangements so that less sunlight is able to fall on your skin while also giving you enough light to work. People do not realise that the sun’s rays can affect them even if they are indoors. If they don’t have an option but to sit by the window, or if they have very wide and large windows that allow sunlight inside, they will undoubtedly get exposed to damaging UV rays. UVA light which causes skin aging is known to penetrate even through window panes.”
The TakeawayDr Prabhu goes on to add that people have also been facing stress related breakouts, skin issues due to over-washing the hands or over-use of sanitisers. “People should ensure to drink enough water, eat well and even exercise while indoors. A combination of these three lead to healthy skin. However, there are no natural or home remedies to protect from the sun. Those who have been exposed to sunlight and are facing redness or skin irritation may use aloe vera, buttermilk, and curd, to soothe the skin,” he signs off.