The SPF creams are most likely to be inadequate for the harsh, Indian Summer climate.
What is SPF?
SPF means Sun Protection Factor. There is no 100% Sun Protection Cream. Unless specified, these creams offer limited or nil protection for the 'C' band.
The SPF number mentioned refers to UV- B light only. SPF 30 does not mean double the power of SPF 15
Misguidance / Misrepresentation
Some advertisers show on TV, female models going out in the Sun, with SPF 15 to 40 Creams. The models say that they are adequately protected. I recollect having seen one TV ad where the model deriding one for using an umbrella.
All such claims are reckless misguidance. As these creams cannot give full / 100% protection, whatever the number be, it is not protective enough. Our dress gives more meaningful Sun Protection than SPF cream. This crucial basic point is overlooked by those who get trapped in shallow words
Transliteration of a Tamil proverb: You cannot jump half a well.
SPF 15, 20, 30, 40 - 1, 45.5 and so on are superficial talking points. A tree shade or umbrella may give better protection than a SPF cream.
Sunscreen Lotions and Death
This news is from one issue of an Internationally known, weekly magazine. As per a 1994 news, some people applied SPF creams / Sunscreen lotions on their bodies and sun bathed in a California beach. 4 persons who exposed themselves for over 30 minutes, died
Since then, it is compulsory in America to declare on the lable that the cream may give some protection for 30 minutes or less and it is not advisable to expose oneself for long and suffer Sun Stroke.
I recollect having read somewhere that for a Sun Protection Cream to be effective, about 35 gms has to be applied over the complete body once in 4 hours and 3 applications per day.
Most Indians use these SPF creams and Fairness Creams just for the face. Such application is totally insufficient. The feeling of protection against Sun is baseless and misplaced. Money gets wasted.
Some relevant Scientific, background facts
The Power of Sunlight
The Sun's Radiant Energy falling on the Earth is nearly sufficient to run all the machines on the Earth for one Year, if only it can be stored for just 4 minutes.
Does that give a picture of the power and magnitude of Sunlight? If one goes within 10 Million Miles [or Kilometres] of the Sun, one will get incinerated / burnt. That is immense fire power. [the exact figure is irrelevant] . .
Sunlight falls directly over the head between 11 AM to 3 PM in India. Farmers do not normally work during these hours but the educated City men do.
In India, over 1000 people die every year due to Sun Stroke during the Summer months, when the day time temperature crosses 45* Centigrade / 110 Degrees Fahrenheit.
Ultra Violet Rays
Sunlight contains Ultra Violet rays as well, besides the visible spectrum of light. UV rays are not safe. The wavelengths of the UV rays are between X rays and the Visible Light.
The UV Rays are subdivided into 3 bands, as A, B and C. The wavelength of these UV Rays is
UV Band Wave length Impact
X Rays Below 254 mm pierces the body
UV - C Range 254 - 290 mm Can affect the Eyes and cause Cataract
UV - B Range 290 - 320 mm Can cause Wrinkles on the skin; Damage the basal cells
UV - A Range 320 - 360 mm Can penetrate below the Dermis; cause Sagging
Visible light above 360 mm
Natural shield against UV Rays - damaged
The Ozone Layer prevents the entry of B and C rays. Some American Scientists raised a red flag around 1990 against the use of Chloro Fluro Carbons/ [CFC] in Refrigerators and other items. They said that it is causing a hole in the Ozone layer. US Government sat on it. Only after 10 years, the Government and M/s Du Pont acknowledged that CFC is causing a hole in the Ozone layer.
By then, a huge hole has already been made in the Ozone layer.
Through that hole, B and C band rays are now entering some parts of Australia and New Zealand. There is no easy immediate solution to fill the hole in Ozone layer.
The UV rays in the Sunlight can affect the skin / scalp and hair. So we need to protect ourselves sensibly.
Here is one More Uncontrollable
"Free Radical" means an unpaired or a single, free Electron. It is an unstable, hyperactive agent. This can damage the DNA, the nucleus of the Cell, the building block of the Body.
Lot of Free Radicals float about / above the Scalp. UV light triggers Free Radicals reactions..
Long Chain ceramides can minimise the Free Radicals reactions. These are present naturally in the 'root' area. The Long chain Fatty Acids / Vegetable Oils is one tested protection as hair oil - it may not be good as Ceramides but better than frying the hair in the Sun.
One natural body protection
Black colour is a minor protection against Sunlight
In Radiation Physics, an Ideal Black body is a Theoretical Object that absorbs all the Radiant energy falling upon it and emits it back in the form of Thermal Radiation
That is why People in Tropical Countries have black / brownish bodies and black hair. The skin produces Melanin, the Black skin pigment, as a protection against Sunlight. The epidermis of people living in hot Tropical climates also thickens up a bit to provide further protection.
People who work outdoors like farmers have Black skins. Under the influence of the Sunlight, their bodies produce more Melanin. People from the same region, who work indoors / say housewives, may have less Blackish outer skin.
Black colour is a partial, natural, protection against Sunlight.
Economical, safe and better Protection
1. We do clothe ourselves even in the hot Indian Summer. This is the best and easily available protection against Sunlight. We have tested it and used it for year.
The multilayered soft cloth / turban is a better option in the hot Sun. That is what Villagers / farmers do.
2. A black coloured umbrella is also a nice protection in the hot Sun. It is very unfortunate that people in Cities like Ahmedabad do not use it.
Some more suggestions:
1. Nowadays many people, including ladies, do not apply oil or cream on the hair. They leave the hair dry / unlubricated. The hair and the Scalp gets fried in the Sun / left unprotected. The Hair floats as its end is untied.
This indulgence can be unscientific and counter productive haircare. It can lead to hairloss, dandruff, constant itching and premature greying / discolouration of hair. Discolouration leads to dyeing and additional new problems
For more on this topic, refer to 'dry hair page' also.
2. If the epidermis / outer skin is damaged / affected, how the hair will come out of the skin?
a] Minimising exposure to direct Sunlight: between 12 to 4 PM. Temperature on the streets is taken in a shade and not under direct Sunlight.
3] Having weekly Oil bath, say with Till Oil, will give an extra oil coat to the body. Oil coat will reduce excess sweating / loss of excess body water / dehydration.
4] Business idea
A foldable Black hat like the ones that are used in Convocations in Academic Institutes is better. It should not much disturb the groomed hair. It can be made very functional and convenient. Wish someone makes it at affordable prices
Burying Commonsense for Fashion
Many people would use Umbrellas in Summer in Trichy District of Tamil Nad till I left it in 1964 to Benaras / Varnasi for higher education. While travelling by trains, one can always notice the village folk with a multilayered turban or umbrella.
I am settled in Ahmedabad since 1977. I have not seen anyone using the Umbrella. The normal temperature in May - June will be around 110* Fahrenheit.