Skincare under the sun

The Asian Age.

Life, Health

The fairer the skin, the more it is at risk of sunburn – so, slather on the sunscreen

The photo Karisma Kapoor shared, with her sister Kareena Kapoor from their Maldives vacation. (By Arrangement)

Karisma Kapoor recently shared a photo with her sister Kareena Kapoor from their Maldives vacation, but beautiful though it was, the photo sent Bebo’s fans into a tizzy. The reason? There were red marks on her face.

‘OMG, Bebo, skin’ wrote a worried fan. ‘Why is Bebo’s face so red?’ another asked. They all wanted to know what had happened to her face.

Dr. Nishita Ranka Bagmar, internationally acclaimed dermatologist, Medical Director & Founder of Dr. Nishita'a Clinic for Skin, Hair & Aesthetics, explains the redness on Kareena's face.

Common in fair skin types

She says the condition is rather common in fair skin types. "The redness on Kareena's skin looks very worrisome to us Indians because her skin type is rarely found here. Such redness of skin, however, is commonly seen in people on the beaches in places like Florida and Miami."

Understanding your skin type

Dr. Nishita says a system called the Fitzpatrick Scale is used to classify skin types, based on the reaction to sun-exposure, into six categories.

“Type one and two are extremely fair skin types. They are not very common in India. Type 3 and 4 are brownish and 5 and 6 are dark brown to black," the doctor says.

The reaction to sun and UV light varies depending on the melanin content present in the skin, Dr. Nishita explains. "When skin type 1 is exposed to the sun, it always burns but never tans. When Type 2 is exposed to sunlight, it usually burns and rarely tans. Type 3 mildly burns but tans uniformly. In Type 4 skin the burn is minimal and the tan is uniform. Type 5 will rarely burn and tans very easily. This skin type is common in the southern part of India. Lastly, there is Type 6 which is rare in India and widely found in African regions. This skin gets tanned in a dark brown shade."

All about sunburn and sun-tan

Most Indians fall under Types 3, 4 and 5 on the Fitzpatrick Scale. "In the lighter skin types, the response to UV radiation is a reddish tan and not a brownish one. This happens because of the level of pigment in their skin and lower amounts of melanin. The darker skin types burn less and tan easily. The melanin protects their skin from getting burned," she adds.

Re-apply adequate sunscreen

Kareena's skin would fall under Type 2 or 3 on the Fitzpatrick Scale, according to the doctor. The paler or lighter the skin is, the more sun protection is required, because lighter skin can burn easily.

Also, any sunscreen works only for three hours. What happens while holidaying on the beach is, you're completely exposed to UV rays and may often forget to reapply the sunscreen every three hours. Applying an inadequate quantity of sunscreen can also leave one open to sunburn or tan.

Permanent skin-damage

Sunburn in paler skin types also hastens ageing. The pigment cells will get damaged and this makes the skin appear reddish. This reaction can be reduced with proper usage of sunscreen but can't be prevented completely, she cautions.