Do you know what sunscreen your skin needs? Although there is a growing awareness about skin care in the face of sun exposure, many people still only do it when the heat arrives.
The purpose of the skin is to protect us from external agents. The sun, or rather ultraviolet rays, are the main cause of photoaging, which can cause serious damage to our body, ranging from burns to cancer, sunspots and DNA damage.
What sun protection is for
The sun provides energy, vitamin D and improves our mood, but long exposure can also damage our skin’s defense mechanisms.
The use of sunscreens on our skin allows us to increase its tolerance to sun exposure, thus reducing skin damage, preventing aging, blemishes and tone differences.
On the other hand, by protecting the skin, we also reduce the formation of free radicals, which are involved in the effects of photoaging.
For these reasons, sun protection should be applied all year round, even if it is cloudy or cold.
What is SPF?
SPF is the sun protection factor. It is the indicator used to classify the level of protection of a product intended to defend against UVB rays, which are the ones that cause skin burns.
The number of SPF indicated by these products refers to the number of times multiplied by the time you can be in the sun without burning your skin.
The SPF indicator is classified as:
- Low protection: 7 to 20
- Medium protection: 15 to 25
- High protection: 30 to 50
- Very high protection: more than 50
UVA and UVB protection
SPF protection corresponds to protection against UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburn, changes in skin tone and more serious problems such as melanomas.
It should be taken into account that even if the skin does not show burn damage, even with the highest protection, ultraviolet radiation is capable of causing other invisible damage, such as photoaging.
It is therefore necessary to choose a product that also protects against UVA rays, which are responsible for skin aging by causing alterations in cells, tissues and DNA.
Sunscreens marketed in the European Union are required by law to include UVA protection and are identified by the letters UVA inside a circle.
Broad spectrum protectors
The best sunscreens are broad-spectrum sunscreens, which protect against other threats such as infrared radiation and visible light. For the time being, the EU does not oblige marketers to protect against these threats.
They are identified by an IR and an HEV, inside a semicircle.
On the other hand, water- and sweat-resistant sunscreens are now available. The latter are especially indicated for sports practice.
These protectors remain longer on the skin, even when wet.
Which sunscreen is best for which skin?
It is advisable to always use sunscreen, at least 15 SPF. However, each skin type has a different capacity to assimilate radiation.
- Pale skins, which appear delicate and have many freckles, are those of phototype I. They are usually redheads, who do not usually tan and burn easily when exposed to the sun. In this case, the recommended protection is very high.
- The skin coinciding with phototype II is white, in light-haired people, who can tan slightly, but suffer severe reactions if they do so without protection. For these cases, a very high protection factor is also recommended.
- Phototype III coincides with fair skins that tan easily, but suffer from sunburn during the first sun exposures of the season. For these first exposures, it is advisable to use a very high factor and, once tanned, increase to SPF 30.
- When the skin is darker, tans easily and does not burn, we speak of phototype IV. For these cases, high and very high protection factor can be used on the face.
- Phototype V skins are those that already look tanned all year round. These skins do not usually burn, only after long exposure. The use of high protection is recommended.
- Finally, phototype VI skins are those of the black race. The skin tone is even throughout the year and burning is very rare. The use of high protection is recommended.
Type of filters
Sunscreens are composed of mixtures of elements that act in one way or another against ultraviolet radiation. These mixtures are called filters and can be chemical, physical and biological.
- Chemical filters: act on the most superficial part of the skin, absorbing energy and transforming it into heat that is harmless to the body.
- Physical filters:these are powders of mineral origin that reflect solar radiation. They behave like a screen that prevents UVA and UVB rays from penetrating the skin.
- Biological filters:those containing vegetable oils or natural antioxidants.
Most sunscreens are composed of a combination of physical and chemical filters.
How to use sunscreen
Sunscreens should be applied in advance, about 30 minutes before sun exposure. To achieve sufficient protection it is necessary to apply the correct amount. Although it is difficult to pinpoint, it is higher than people think.
You need to fill the palm of your hand and leave the white area, then spread in circles for a few seconds until it is absorbed.
This action must be repeated as many times as necessary, with a minimum of 2 hours. After bathing, even if they are waterproof or sports resistant, they should always be washed after bathing.