How to stay safe in the sun – CheMondis explains.


It is summer again!

And probably many of us will not make it to the beach and sea but spend this summer in the garden at home. But no matter where the sun reaches us this summer, we should protect our skin by using decent sunscreen.

During sunny days we feel full of energy and vitamin D brings our mood up. At the same time, it is proven that the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light causes premature skin aging and damages the skin’s cellular DNA or creating genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer when not protecting the skin carefully.[1],[2]

With today’s blog article, we would like to give you some insights into how sun-protection products fulfill their role and how to choose the best product for you.

The harmful rays of the sun are invisible to us.

Ultraviolet light is invisible to humans because it is not included in the range of light detected by human eyes. Within UV radiation, there are two types that can damage your skin: [3]

  • UVA (Ultraviolet A) rays can slightly lead to sunburns and are the primary cause of skin damage that can factor into skin aging and wrinkles.
  • UVB (Ultraviolet B) rays are the major cause of sunburn and play a key role in the origin of skin cancer. A sunscreen’s SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number refers mainly to the amount of UVB protection it provides.

What types of protection exist in terms of these rays?

Sunscreens are either classified as chemical or physical, based on how they work. Both classes have been shown to reduce short- and long-term damage to the skin.[4] There are also some hybrid versions, that combine both types of protections within their formulations.

What to expect from conventional (chemical) sun-protection creams or sprays?

Chemical sunscreens get into the top layers of the skin and act almost like a sponge, absorbing UV light. Common ingredients in conventional (chemical) sunscreens are usually organic substances, including Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, and Octisalate.

Despite the wide usage of these products, studies have shown that some of those chemical substances are all systemically absorbed into the body after a single use and could be detected on the skin and in blood after weeks.[5]

In the European Union, some of these substances like Oxybenzone are under assessment as an endocrine-disrupting substance.[6] However, currents studies have not yet provided enough information to determine whether the chemicals are really causing harm.

What’s behind physical sun-protection products?

Physical sunscreens do not penetrate the skin and act as a shield, deflecting the sun’s rays from the skin.[7] Typically, physical sunscreens are minerals, for instance, the inorganic substances Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide. This type of sunscreen is known for providing a whitening color to the skin.

However, this effect has been diminished over the past years when the nanoparticle forms of Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide started being used in sunscreens. Nanoparticles of those materials not only retain their highly effective UV light-absorbing capacity but also scatter visible light, rendering them transparent on the skin.


How do I choose the right sunscreen for my skin?

After deciding if you want to go for a chemical, physical, or hybrid sunscreen, it is time to understand which sun protection factor (SPF) is ideal for your type of skin

The SPF number tells you how many times longer the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin. So with SPF 30, it would take you 30 times longer to burn your skin compared to not wearing sunscreen.[8] Regarding the strength of protection, there is not much difference: SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UV light, while SPF 30 blocks 97% and SPF 50 blocks 98%.[9]

Additionally, your skin tone and the duration of outdoor hours should also be taken into consideration. The chart below summarizes all the information you need to choose the best SPF for you:

Finally…

Remember to use water-resistant sunscreen, since the sweat and water can remove the product from your skin. Whatever you buy, make sure to reapply throughout the day, since the sunscreen’s protection factor is only fully effective for approximately two hours after you put it on. 

Now you know everything you need to stay safe during the sunny days – enjoy the summer! 🙂


Sources
1 – Capritto, A. (2020). Mineral sunscreen vs. chemical sunscreen: Which is safer? In: CNet.
2 – McNeill. A.M., Wesner, E. (2020). Sun Protection and Vitamin D. In: Skin Cancer Foundation.
3
– Skin Cancer Foundation. (2020). Does a high SPF protect my skin better? In: Skin Cancer Foundation.
4 – Capritto, A. (2020). Mineral sunscreen vs. chemical sunscreen: Which is safer? In: CNet.
5 – EWG. (2020). The trouble with ingredients in sunscreen. In: EWG’s guide to sunscreens.
6 – ECHA. (2020). Oxybenzone.

7 – Capritto, A. (2020). Mineral sunscreen vs. chemical sunscreen: Which is safer? In: CNet
8 – Soular Organics (2020). Sun Protection Guide.
9 – Capritto, A. (2020). Mineral sunscreen vs. chemical sunscreen: Which is safer? In: CNet.