As the summer is getting to a peak we wanted to speak more about sun protection. Let’s start at the beginning. Exposure to the sun causes most of the skin changes that we consider a normal part of aging. Over time, the sun's ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. As these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and loose its ability to return to its place after stretching.
The skin also squeezes and tears more easily and takes longer to heal. So, while sun damage to the skin may not be visible at a young age, it will definitely show up later in life. The sun can also cause problems for your eyes, eyelids and the skin around your eyes.
UV rays, but to some extent also visible and infrared light, cause changes in the DNA of skin cells and other cell components. Most of the DNA changes are repaired immediately, but if you are unlucky, because it is actually based on chance, it can turn a cell into a cancer cell.
WHAT IS SPF AND HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?
SPF is the abbreviation for sun protection factor and refers to how much of the UV light reaches the skin. If we take the sun protection factor 15 as an example, 1/15 of the light reaches the skin, which means that theoretically you can stay in the sun 15 times longer before you turn red. So, if it normally takes 20 minutes before you start to turn red, with SPF 15 you can stay in the sun for 5 hours before your skin starts to burn (20 min x 15 = 300 min).
This is provided that you have applied a sufficiently thick layer and that the cream is reapplied every 2 hours. Sun cream loses its effect over time and even if it is waterproof, it is removed by rubbing it off sand, clothes and bath towels.
Photo (the Hospital Group)
Regarding the amount of sunscreen, you should use, dermatologists recommend applying the equivalent of a shot glass or six teaspoons to your body. For example, you could spread a ¼ teaspoon dollop to your face and neck. If you use a sunscreen mist, any exposed skin should have a transparent, even coating. Do not be fooled on days when you are usually indoors ... a renewed application every two hours is also still important.
WHICH SPF FACTOR IS ENOUGH?
An SPF 30 allows about 3 percent of UVB rays to reach your skin. A SPF of 50 lets about 2 percent of these rays pass through. This may seem like a small difference until you realize that a SPF of 30 lets 50 percent more UV rays hit your skin.
SPF 15 is considered to be the lowest value required to achieve an acceptable level of sun protection to minimize the risk of skin cancer. If you want to protect your skin against sun aging, a much higher SPF is required, at least 30, but more likely 50 or 50+. Also remember to get a sunscreen product that also protects against UVA sun aging. The sun protection factor only refers to UVB protection. In Europe UVA, sunscreens that are supposed to protect against sun aging should contain a UVA protection that is at least 1/3 of the UVB protection.
DON’T FORGET: A daily sunscreen application every day (even in winter) is recommendable!
This is just the first part of our sunscreen article. In the next one we will speak about mineral powders and how they affect sun protection, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and what you should absolutely avoid in sun protection.