The city girl's ultimate sun protection kit
You’ll find no rashes or sunburn here
You’re feeling lucky today. The first rickshaw you flagged down agreed to take you where you want to go without any pushback. You cut through the traffic with ease, feeling the breeze against your cheek, momentarily cooling down your skin and putting a stop to the excessive face sweating in the summer’s heat. You feel a pep in your step, and your confidence is bubbling. It’s only when you grab your morning coffee that you catch a glimpse of your sunburnt nose – red and screaming for help – in the reflection of the microwave door.
Navigating the concrete jungle while keeping your skin safe from UV damage takes some forethought. Especially that midday sun that beats you down like a 2% salary increment during appraisal season. It’s during peak summer that having only sunscreen in your sun protection kit isn’t enough.
It’s not just about vanity— statistically, 3.18% of cancer patients in India suffer from skin cancer. When you think about our population, that’s a large number. As per the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) 2021 report, India witnesses more than a million cases of melanoma per year. If you live in northern states where the sun is stronger than a Hulk smash, you definitely need a more cohesive sun protection kit.
That’s why we’ve curated a sun protection kit to ensure you stay protected from dawn till dusk – without overheating under layers of clothing. And don’t worry about your vitamin D levels. While it is one of the most common deficiencies in India, “studies have proven that there was no difference between the vitamin D levels in people who used sunscreen and those who didn’t. Indians genetically have lower vitamin D levels. We can’t blame it on the sunscreens,” says dermatologist Dr Manjot Marwah.
What you need in your sun protection kit
This goes without saying, but high-quality sunscreen is the holy grail of sun protection. Look for a broad-spectrum formula with at least SPF 30 to defend against both UVA and UVB rays. There has been a burst of Indian skincare brands lately, and with international brands available too (and don’t forget the pharma companies), there are so many options to choose from. There’s a sunscreen out there for every skin type and need. You just need to hunt a little bit (Tweak readers have some suggestions).
The best sunscreen is the one you will consistently use. If you have dry skin, go for creamy-lotion sunscreen, while oily skin types will enjoy a matte gel finish (which can double as a primer for makeup). There are also a number of sunscreen sticks on the market that make reapplication through the day a lot easier and effective, as long as you’re applying an adequate amount.
Sun hats don’t just have a fashionable flair but shield your face and scalp from direct sunlight. A wide-brimmed hat will give you ample shade while making a style statement as well.
Pick a straw hat if you want to always to feel like you’re headed to the beach during your summer vacations. Although, given its woven texture, the protection you get would be moderate. So we would suggest looking at baseball caps or a trendy bucket hat if you feel like dipping your toes into Gen Z’s fashion world.
Hats by themselves may not block the sun’s rays adequately, so while it’s a valuable addition to your sun protection kit, always team it up with an efficient sunscreen.
UV protection sunglasses
Not all sunglasses are created equally. We’re not debating what is better, wayfarers or aviators, but the fact that not all sunglasses offer the same level of protection from the sun. Namely, cheaper sunglasses brands, say what you pick up from Sarojini Nagar or Hill Road, don’t offer proper UV protection for your eyes.
Sure, any kind of block created by sunglasses will deflect some of the sun’s harmful rays, but sunglasses with embedded UV protection in the lenses can save your eyes and can also prevent hyperpigmentation-induced dark circles and eye bags.
“UV radiation, whether from natural sunlight or indoor artificial rays, can damage the eye’s surface tissues as well as the cornea and lens,” said ophthalmologist Michael Kutryb, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in an interview. “Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the dangers UV light can pose. By wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, you can enjoy the summer safely while lowering your risk for potentially blinding eye diseases and tumors.”
You might be imagining the sporty Oakley glasses your father insists on wearing with the multi-chrome lenses, but you have plenty of styles and colours to choose from. Just remember to ask about their UV protection capabilities before handing over your credit card (have you checked your reward points?)
The right lip balms
If you’ve noticed your lips slowly darken and dry up with an unquenchable thirst, then it’s possible that you’re dealing with sun damage. The skin on our lips is thinner and more delicate than the skin on our face, and yet we often ignore their need for sun protection.
Our natural lip colour is determined by our genes, but that can change over time because of sun damage, over-exfoliation, habits like smoking or high caffeine intake, and also as a side effect of certain medications.
We didn’t always have good options for lip balms with SPF that don’t leave a white cast on our lips or taste like we cleaned the school’s chemistry lab with our tongue. But things have changed, so add a lip balm with SPF to your sun protection kit. You also have the option to go for ones with a tint, so you can skip the lipstick if you’re trying a no-makeup makeup look.
Clothing with UV protection
Consider incorporating clothing that’s made from fabrics with a high ultraviolet protection factor , depending on weave, thickness, quality and treatment.
Polyester and semi-polyester fabrics provide high protection, with bamboo fabrics also being a good option. Reflective and shiny fabrics such as satin bounce off more radiation from the skin than matte fabrics such as linen.
You don’t need to cover yourself from head to toe in a sack either to achieve sun protection.
Sunscreen is your new best friend, but take the party to the next level with the addition of antioxidants to power up sun protection and combat the damaging effects of sun exposure. Antioxidants can come as serums, toners or even as a part of your sunscreen itself, but we like a targeted treatment in the serum step of our skincare routines.
Powerful antioxidants in skincare are vitamins C and E, as well as resveratrol, green tea, coenzyme Q10 and curcumin. While serving as antioxidants, they also have added benefits. Vitamin C (and its many derivatives) is a crowd-favourite multitasker that can also boost collagen production; green tea has antimicrobial properties, and vitamin E is extremely hydrating too. So pick an ingredient that can serve more than one purpose for your skin’s needs if you want to cut down on layering products in this heat.
Cooling face mist
While we wouldn’t say a face mist is essential for your sun protection kit, we love keeping one handy on hot days. A face mist with the right ingredients can give you the zing you need to cool your face and skin when you feel yourself going red like a tomato.
You can pick a face mist that has antioxidants in it to give your skin a boost throughout the day. There are also face mists with SPF that can make reapplication a little easier (especially if you’re wearing makeup, but these are a little difficult to control, so experts caution users from depending on an SPF spray solely for sun protection.
With a cooling face mist to top off your sun protection kit, you’re now ready to take on hectic city life with better protection from the sun, and pollution and the ability to stare at people without them noticing if you pick blackout sunglasses.