However, despite all the positive effects, the sun also has its dark side! UVA and UVB rays cause most damage to our skin. They can burn the skin, make it age more quickly and, in the worst case scenario, lead to cancer – a fact of which we are all too aware. Skin cancer is very deceptive: it appears at some point but not necessarily where the skin has been exposed to a lot of sun.
The right sunscreen is essential.
The right sunscreen depends on a number of different factors, such as the intensity of the UV rays, the type of activity, how much time is spent in the sun or how sensitive the skin is to sun. Skin needs the strongest UV protection in the early years because sunburn at an early age increases the risk of cancer. The skin of babies and young children in particular is extremely sensitive to UV rays. Children under the age of two shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight.
How do UV rays work?
The biological effects of UV radiation depend on their wavelength. The shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy of the rays and the greater their potential to cause damage. UVC radiation has the highest energy of all UV radiation but is almost completely absorbed by the atmosphere. UVB rays are higher in energy than UVA rays but they only penetrate the epidermis. They are responsible for the thickening of the horny layer of the epidermis, which protects the skin against the sun. They also boost the synthesis of vitamin D and stimulate the production of new pigment, which causes the skin to darken. However, if UVB radiation is too high, it can have dangerous consequences. It is the main cause of sunburn and can trigger cancer in the cells of the epidermis. UVA rays are lower in energy than UVB rays but penetrate deeper into the dermis. A suntan is caused by a redistribution of the pigment that is already present. In high doses, UVA rays can also cause sunburn and be partly responsible for the development of skin cancer. They are also responsible for sun-related skin aging (photoaging) and for triggering certain allergies.
The following rules should be observed:
Rule of thumb 1: The higher the sun-protection factor, the greater the protection! The appropriate protection should be selected in accordance with the individual acclimatisation to the sun, the time of day, location and amount of time spent in the sun.
Rule of thumb 2: Apply sunscreen to all areas exposed to the sun! In particular, the ears, parting and soles of the feet tend to get forgotten. Clothing that has slipped out of place can also expose areas without sunscreen!
Rule of thumb 3: Apply sunscreen generously! It is very important to apply sufficient sunscreen – most people use much too little! For example, a thick strip of sunscreen (two fingers wide) is sufficient for one leg or one arm. An average-sized adult needs about 6 dessert spoons of sunscreen!
Rule of thumb 4: Sweating, drying, the rubbing of clothes or bathing reduces protection (even if the sunscreen is said to be waterproof). Similarly, any contact with other surfaces, such as clothing, seats or sand, reduces the effectiveness of the sunscreen applied. Depending on your activity, you should re-apply sunscreen every two hours!
Rule of thumb 5: The sun-protection factor – and thus the length of protection – cannot be increased by frequently reapplying the sunscreen. The protection factor is always as high as stated on the product and is simply extended by re-application of the sunscreen.
Chemical or physical filter?
There are countless sunscreens available on the market with different bases, such as creams, oils, lotions or gels. Products with a rich formulation are ideal, for example, for children or for dry skins, whereas sunscreens with a light formulation are preferred by active people and sportspeople.
The various products also have different UV filters, namely chemical or physical. In the case of chemical filters, a molecule of the filter reduces the energy of the sun’s rays and releases it in the form of heat that is harmless to the skin. By contrast, physical filters lie on the skin like tiny mirrors and reflect the majority of the sun’s rays. However, not everyone likes to have a white layer on their skin.
In accordance with product requirements and EU standards, we continue to endeavour to put together the ideal UV-filter combinations to offer the skin the best possible protection and care.
We hope you have a great and sunny summer holiday! And don’t forget to protect your skin!