Sun creams: what are they for?
Sunbathe always protecting the skin is the first step to be safe.
Exposure to sunlight has effects benefits on the immune system and strengthens bones through vitamin D, which is needed to fix calcium. Furthermore, sunlight stimulates the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which regulate sleep rhythms and they promote a good mood.
There is, however, the downside, namely the damage that can derive from careless or excessive solar radiation. Being exposed in the wrong way, without adequately protecting the skin, means incurring a series of photobiological reactions responsible for acute harmful effects (erythema and sunburn) and chronic (photoaging and increased risk of developing skin cancers).
Tanning gradually and with the necessary precautions is equivalent to preventing these inconveniences and reaping the benefits that the sun undoubtedly possesses. Preparing the skin for the sun is essential.
I sun filters they are able to delay sunburn, reduce the risk of some UV-induced lesions (such as actinic keratoses) and help prevent melanoma. Let's see how to choose the sun protection factor suitable for your skin type and the most compatible formulation for your needs.To learn more: Best Sun Creams 2021: the 5 Most Effective and Safe
What is the Sun Protection Factor (SPF)?
Sun protection means any substance (or material) capable of shield from ultraviolet rays and prevent the potential harmful effects it could have on the skin.
Apart from the risks associated with heat, in fact, the action of the sun represents a danger for burns and erythema, which can permanently damage the skin surface and cause premature onset of wrinkles, spots or even precancerous changes.
The key to choosing a sunscreen well is the number on all packages, indicated after the sigla SPF (from the English Sun Protecting Factor, i.e. sun protection factor) which provides a numerical indication (from 6 to 50+) relating to the product's ability to screen or block the sun's rays.
SPF: How is it calculated?
The sun protection factor (SPF) is calculated by comparing the amount of radiation that the skin protected by the cream is able to filter before getting burned, compared to an exposure of the same skin surface without a screen. The higher the SPF index, the greater the protection from the sun, considering that it can reach a maximum of 50+.
In general, dermatologists recommend using a sun protection factor of no less than 15 and, generally, a sun protection factor of 30 is considered the most suitable index for people who carry out activities outside for long periods of time. Indicatively, in a laboratory environment, a sunscreen with SPF 30 absorbs about 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 15 absorbs about 93%.
This does not mean, as many believe, that the duration of effectiveness of a filter can be calculated simply by multiplying the protection factor with the duration of the time it takes to suffer skin damage without sun protection. Many other factors, in fact, influence the amount of absorbed rays, including the duration of exposure, the time of day, the geographical position and the meteorological conditions.
Good to know: What Solar Products Shield
Solar radiation is classified according to its characteristic wavelength. In addition to visible light (perceived by the human eye), they stand out infrared rays (IR) is ultraviolet (UV). The latter (UVA, UVB and UVC) manage to reach the dermis, producing an effect on the tissues and the metabolic system. In detail:
- I UVA rays they penetrate deep into the skin, promote the release of melanin from melanocytes and tan. UVAs pose a subtle threat to our skin: they are also present on days with overcast and cloudy skies and, unlike sunburns caused by UVBs, they do not create particular discomfort and their impact can manifest even after years. Their effect is reduced by sunglasses and hindered by protective clothing and sunscreens.
- I UVB rays they are potentially more harmful and carcinogenic than UVA, but they stimulate the neosynthesis of melanin and activate the metabolism of vitamin D.
- I UVC rays they are the most dangerous radiations and, fortunately, they are shielded by the ozone layer in the earth's atmosphere (they usually do not reach the ground).
Sunscreens absorb or reflect UV rays. Generally, the SPF number only indicates the effectiveness of a sunscreen against UVB rays (therefore against sunburn). To defend your skin from both UVB and UVA rays (which cause premature skin aging), look for sunscreen that can provide broad spectrum UV protection (UVA / UVB). These indications are present on the label or on the packaging of the solar product.
Australian Gold Spray Gel SPF 30 is the best-selling product on Amazon in the solar sector. The formulation does not contain parabens, paba, alcohol, gluten and instead has a small amount of instant natural bronzer of vegetable origin. Although the brand is not particularly well known, at least in the country, the excellent user reviews have made Australian Gold spray gel a bestseller. Even those with fair skin and those who have gone on vacation to countries where the sun is very strong, such as the tropics, have nothing but praise for this product.
To learn more: The 5 best sunscreens for hair
How to choose the sun according to your skin
The phototype indicates the type of reaction of the skin exposed to the sun's rays, that is the predisposition to tan more or less quickly and the vulnerability to develop sunburn.
The phototype is established by various somatic characteristics, that is, the color of the eyes, of the hair (remember that there are sunscreens for specific hair) and of the skin. Once you have identified which one you belong to, you can determine which indexes of protection are right for your skin type.
- Very fair / milky-white complexion, often with freckles, light eyes and blond or red hair. The skin is extremely sensitive to the sun, it always burns and tans slightly with great difficulty.
- Recommended protection: 50+
- Fair complexion, light eyes, blond or light brown hair. The skin is very sensitive to the sun, it burns easily and tans with difficulty.
- Recommended protection: 50+
- Medium fair complexion, brown hair, light or brown eyes. The skin is sensitive, can burn after intensive sun exposure, and the ability to tan is low.
- Recommended protection: 30
- Olive or dark complexion, dark brown or black hair, dark eyes. The skin is not very sensitive and rarely reacts to intensive sun exposure, it almost never burns and tans easily.
- Recommended protection: 30
- Olive-brown complexion, black hair and dark eyes. The skin tans intensely and sunburns are rare.
- Recommended protection: 20
- Black complexion, black hair and black eyes. The skin almost never burns and shows no noticeable difference in color after exposure to sunlight.
- Recommended protection: 20
To be considered when choosing solar
- Altitude: it is estimated that UV radiation increases by 4% for every 1.000 meters of altitude difference. Therefore, at higher altitudes, sunscreen should be applied and reapplied more conscientiously.
- Latitude: the intensity of the sun becomes greater as you get closer to the equator, so you should also adapt your sun protection strategies.
- Climatic characteristics: high levels of temperature and humidity trigger greater transpiration, decreasing the potential effectiveness of sun creams.
- Age: children and the elderly require a higher protection factor.
- Presence of any reflective surfaces: sand, snow, ice and water can reflect up to 80% of UV rays, intensifying the exposure (reflected radiation).
- Conducting outdoor activities (sports, gardening, fishing, etc.): regardless of direct and conscious exposure to sunlight.
Skin in the Sun: What to Watch Out for
- Duration and time of the expected exhibition: exposure to the sun should be avoided during the hottest hours of the day, from 10 to 16, when the intensity of the sun is higher.
- Simultaneous intake of drugs or the presence of any concomitant pathologies: can increase sensitivity to the sun.
Formule e Texture
What are the types of solar products?
- Sun cream, spray and milk: these are certainly the most widespread formulations, as they are pleasant on a cosmetic level. The cream is more consistent than milk; in addition to a protective effect, they also have a moisturizing action.
- Solar oils: they are easily distributed on the skin, forming a thin, transparent and water-resistant layer. Furthermore, they do not require the presence of preservatives. However, they are recommended for those who are already tanned or have dark skin.
- come solar: pleasant to apply, they dry quickly on the skin and have a refreshing action, but low protection. Hydroalcoholic-based gels are contraindicated for sensitive skin.
- Solar sticks: with high protective power, have a solid shape and are applied on limited areas (nose, lips, spots, scars, etc.).
- Solar waters: they occur in liquid and aqueous form; in general, they have a poor protective effect, do not resist sweat and baths, therefore they are not recommended for lighter and more sensitive skin.
The active ingredients in the so-called "chemical" sunscreens (salicylates, cinnamates, oxybenzone, octylcrylene and others) thanks to their structure are able to absorb UV light. Currently, some chemical filters are commercially available that allow full coverage of the ultraviolet spectrum (UVB, short UVA and long UVA).
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, on the other hand, are inert mineral substances with a strong covering power, which physically reflect sunlight and which form physical screens. The original formulas of these "physical" sunscreens give the typically white tint when applied to the skin (fortunately, the newer formulations leave no trace and blend with the natural skin tone). In addition to filters and / or screens, the formulation of the solar product includes the addition of excipients, which are responsible for determining the following characteristics: consistency, resistance to water and sweat, ease of application, rapid absorption and permanence. of the product on the skin and so on.
When a product is presented as water resistant it means that it is able to maintain its protective capacity over time. However, it is advisable to repeat the application of the product after prolonged contact with water, sweat or various surfaces (towels, vegetation or sand).
Garnier Ambre Solaire spray with SPF 50 is designed for those with fair or very sensitive skin. It contains no perfume, parabens or dyes or alcohol, is non-greasy and non-sticky. The reviews are generally very positive, both because the sun actually avoids the oily effect, and because it is quite rare to find a 50 protection in spray format. An aspect not very appreciated by users is, however, the very cold temperature of the product when it is sprayed on the skin.
Avène 50 sun milk is an excellent protection for those who belong to phototype I or II, that is, have very light skin and hair, but also for those who are exposed to the sun in places where it is particularly strong. It is practical and comfortable and, like all Avène products, it contains the precious thermal water. The reviews are very positive, users emphasize how the product allows you to have an even tan and the validity of this protection.
BioNike Acteen Sun cream with high protection (50+) is very suitable for those with acne-prone skin. In fact, this product also has a regulating action on sebaceous secretion. It is water resistant and contains UVA and UVB filters. Those who bought it say they are very happy with the excellent value for money and also with the particularity of the product, that is, its adaptation to the most oily skins, protecting them without dirtying them.
How and When to Use Sunscreen
Solar: to be applied always, without making mistakes
Incorrect use of sunscreen products can drastically decrease their function.
To optimize the protective effect, the sunscreen must always be generously distributed on the face and body, at least half an hour before exposure, so that the filters can activate. Applying too thin a layer of product may reduce the ability of the sunscreen to absorb or reflect UV light.
The use of sunscreen products should not be stopped when the skin begins to color; at most, the protective index can be reduced, without ever exposing the skin lacking the defense offered by the filters.
For outdoor activities for long periods of time (4 hours or more of sun exposure), choose a sunscreen that offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
Quantity and Method of Use
Shake the container well and distribute the sunscreen generously over all exposed skin: most adults should use approximately 35ml of sunscreen (equivalent to two tablespoons) for each application to cover the whole body. Spreading too thin a layer of product could reduce the ability of the sunscreen to absorb or reflect UV light. Pay particular attention to sensitive areas such as the nose, ears and feet.
Sunscreen should be applied to dry skin 30 minutes before exposure. The same amount of sunscreen must be reapplied every two hours and always after a bath, even when it is a water resistant formula. Sweating, rubbing with beach towels and frequent showers, in fact, reduce the protective capacity.
It may be useful to combine the use of an after sun.