Tanning is the main defense mechanism that our skin adopts to protect itself from the harmful action of UV rays. Of course, this mechanism may be insufficient in the event of frequent, prolonged and / or uncontrolled exposure to the sun. In these cases, therefore, it is essential to protect yourself adequately, adopting all the precautions and measures currently available and which allow you to enjoy the sun and life in the open air, avoiding the damage it can cause (erythema, skin spots, photoaging, tumors of the skin, etc.).
Sunscreens are cosmetic products capable of protecting the skin from ultraviolet radiation. These filters can be of two types:
- Physical (buffers);
- Chemicals (absorbents).
Physical sunscreens reflect ultraviolet radiation like real mirrors (sunscreens); while chemical filters modify the chemical structure of the radiation by returning the absorbed energy in the form of heat.
Sunscreens are numerous and specific for certain wavelengths: the greater the number of filters, the greater the overall protective action of the cosmetic product as a whole.
The protection factor is indicated on these products with a variable figure according to the chosen scale. This figure indicates the number of hours of sun exposure in which the product is effective in avoiding sunburn (erythema).
For example, if the maximum "resistance to the sun" is 10 minutes, using a factor 5 filter, you go to fifty minutes of protection (5 x 10).
Choice of solar filter
The time of resistance to the sun varies according to individual sensitivity and for this reason the choice of the sunscreen must be made according to your phototype. In addition to the phototype, for the choice of the most suitable solar filter it is necessary to take into account other factors, such as, for example, the duration of exposure to the sun, the place where you are (altitude and latitude) and age ( in fact, with the same phototype, children and the elderly need higher sunscreens than young adults due to the sensitivity of their skin).
It is advisable to use hypoallergenic products to avoid unpleasant skin irritation.
Finally, the type of formulation can also be a discriminating factor in choosing the most suitable solar product. In fact, cream products have the greatest protective power, liquid or gel products do not always guarantee adequate protection.
For more information: Solar Protection - How to Choose It
Application of the sun filter
The application of the sun filter is just as important as the protection index.
In particular, the amount of product applied is important to protect yourself from the negative effects of the sun. It has been calculated that about 30 grams of product are needed to protect an average-sized adult, which should be re-applied every two hours or in the case of baths. The dose will be increased in the first days of tanning and decreased in the following days.
The water resistant products (water resistant data reported on the label) can withstand approximately 30-40 minutes of immersion, while the waterproof ones can reach and exceed the hour of protection. However, it is always recommended to re-apply the product as soon as you come out of the water.
Use in children
Children under three years of age should be protected as much as possible from sun exposure which will be limited until the end of puberty. In these cases it is not just a question of applying the right product which should have a very high protection index (SPF 50 or 50+), but of limiting the photoexposure as much as possible, also using appropriate protective clothing (hat, t-shirt, glasses, etc.).
UV protection clothing
UV protection garments are clothes specially designed to protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun.
These garments are made with special materials and substances in order to allow them to shield UV radiation in a similar way to normal sun creams.
For more information: UV protection clothing to protect yourself from the sun
Below are some useful tips that should be followed to protect yourself from damage from tanning, in order to limit the onset of unwanted effects, even serious ones, as much as possible.
- Gradually expose yourself to the sun. The first days, in fact, are those at the highest risk because the skin is unprepared for intense and prolonged sun exposure. It is indeed important to know how to prepare the skin for the sun
- Beware of reflective surfaces, such as water, snow or sand. The risk of sunburn increases in the vicinity of these surfaces: snow is able to reflect about 80% of ultraviolet rays, sand more than 25%.
- Ultraviolet rays are absorbed even in the shade. In fact, it is estimated that more than 50% of all ultraviolet rays are absorbed even in the shade. This percentage, then, increases even more in the presence of reflective surfaces.
- Beware of tanning at high altitude. The intensity of radiation increases by 12% every 1.000 m of height: therefore exposure in the mountains is more dangerous than at the sea and it is for this reason that in these cases it is a good rule to use sunscreens with a very high protection index and possibly wear anti-UV clothing.
- Beware of water; in fact, contrary to what one might think, ultraviolet radiations are able to penetrate even water in a percentage that exceeds 95%.
- Similarly to the skin, eyes can also be damaged by solar radiation. Hence the importance of always using wraparound sunglasses with dark lenses (glasses with colored or gradient lenses tend to protect the eyes to a lesser extent from UV rays).
- Do not expose yourself to the sun during the hottest hours. It is estimated that about 50% of ultraviolet rays reach the Earth between 11.00 and 15.00.
Finally, to help the skin overcome the stress caused by sun exposure, in the evening, after a shower, it is a good habit to apply a moisturizing product with an emollient action (after sun) on it.
Other articles on 'Protecting Yourself From Tanning Damage'
- Tanning and Photodamage
- History of Tanning
- Tanning and Ultraviolet Rays
- Phototype and Tan
- Artificial Tan
- Food and Tan
- Best Sun Creams
- After sun
- How to prepare your skin for the sun