Lucija Kračun, MD
Specialist of family practise
AAAMED diploma for aesthetic medicine
Do you prefer a cream or gel? Maybe oil? No, we are not talking about your favorite gourmet sins, but about sunscreen products tailored to different skin types. After all, the sun’s rays, although a source of life, can also be dangerous. Especially for the skin.
The sun simply cannot be completely hidden. And it doesn’t has to, because it invigorates and cheers us up. But it is good to be aware that all good things can be enough too quickly. That is why Europeans once wore long sleeves and trousers even in the summer heat and wore hats on their heads. They did not work outside when the sun was at its strongest, and while bathing in streams, pools, or lakes, the body was completely covered with clothing.
But after World War II, a lot changed. With the increase in the standard, the amount of free time and vacations by the sea or in health resorts has also increased, and it has strengthened its tan as a sign of a higher social class, even though it is basically a skin injury. The tan, which is triggered by damaged cell nuclei, protects the skin from UV rays, so there is no belief that photoaging only happens with sunburn.
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The difference between prematurely aged skin due to the sun and the actual age is clearly seen when comparing the outside and inside of the forearm or upper arm and between always covered parts of the body and face, neck, décolleté or shoulders.
EFFECTS OF UV RAYS
UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and trigger short-term tanning by transferring melanin from the deeper layers to the surface. At the same time, they form free radicals and irreparably change skin cells, dry out the skin and damage collagen fibers, which leads to premature aging, acne, allergies to the sun, pigmentation disorders and, last but not least, skin cancer. UVB rays also penetrate the epidermis, so it also turns brown and is susceptible to sunburn, allergic reactions, and skin cancer.
Good protection against both UVA and UVB rays is therefore essential. But what do protective factors tell us? How much time longer can we exposed to the sun before it burns us. Which means – if we were burned without protection, for example, after 15 minutes, with a factor of 15, at least in theory, we are safe from burns for about 225 minutes. The photoaging factor is about three times lower than indicated on the packaging.
And one more thing – we must of course apply sunscreen correctly and in sufficient quantities, which we usually do not consider, so the consequences of sun exposure are increasingly being noticed in people in their twenties or even earlier. In very light-skinned people, a burn can leave a pigmented spot in childhood, for example on the shoulders, outer arms, nose, or cheeks. We call them freckles, but in reality, they are the first signs of photoaging, followed over the years by tiny, then deeper lines and wrinkles, red veins, thinned or thickened yellowish skin, multiplied skin growths and uneven pigmentation.
BETTER TO PREVENT
The best protection against the sun is, of course, avoiding direct radiation, light clothing, a hat with at least a six-centimeter edge and sunglasses, and the obligatory use of a protection factor on all exposed parts of the body. A factor of 30 or higher is definitely better than 20, as we usually must consider a lower application than recommended, while factors of 15 and less do not provide sufficient protection. UVA and UVB filters, as well as added antioxidants, further prevent damage to cellular structures, the formation of free radicals and the immune response in the form of sun allergy. Among the protective pigments, iron oxide has been talked about for some time, which is supposed to prevent the access of visible light to pigment cells, melanocytes, which trigger the formation of excessive pigmentation – melasma.
THE CHOICE AND QUANTITY ARE THE KEY
Sun protection is like clothing – we can’t have the same in the city, for recreation, on a hike in the mountains or for outdoor work. For swimming, waterproof sprays with a mineral protection factor are best. For recreation and outdoor work, non-greasy gels, contacts, or lotions with a light texture that do not promote sweating. While organic filters that leave no traces and shine, should be applied at home. The spray should be pressed at least 25 times if we want to protect the body of a medium-sized adult and on the beach the application should be repeated at least every two hours or after bathing.
DAILY MOISTURISING CARE FOR FRESH AND RADIANT SKIN
Despite the regular, correct, and repeated use of sunscreens, some UV light still penetrates the skin cells and the damage it does can be limited by deeply moisturizing and nourishing creams with strong antioxidants or serums with hyaluronic acid, which bring intense moisture to the form of light gel. The latter is quickly absorbed and does not overload the skin, and at the same time you apply a high concentration of active ingredients – hyaluronic acid is a long-tested and effective ingredient in dermocosmetics, and as the skin’s own substance offers several beneficial effects.
For a healthy look and radiant complexion, it is crucial that the skin remains moisturized, and the sun – damaged barrier allows water to evaporate, which causes dehydration, which leads to dry skin and fine lines or even wrinkles. Therefore, it is best to use so – called moisturizing boosters, which provide the skin with all the necessary essential ingredients, every night, as the second step of regular facial care, immediately after cleansing and before other care products. Immortelle timeless regenerating cream, with carefully selected organic ingredients, has intense nourishing and antioxidant effect, while providing enough moisture and promoting collagen formation. The cream improves the firmness as well as the elasticity of the skin and small wrinkles disappear.
WHAT ABOUT UNDER THE ARTIFICIAL SUN?
Self-tanning creams, foams and jams are completely safe, as tanning occurs in the upper part of the epidermis, where the cells are just before exfoliation and have no more nuclei, while, as said, UV rays penetrate all layers of skin and damage the nuclei, living cells, their parts and structures. Only an even application is important, so we advise you to exfoliate and moisturize the skin well beforehand.
Avoid tanning beds, of course! Safe and healthy irradiation with ionizing UV rays does not exist, which is why the WHO advised against solariums 20 years ago. They have been shown to be associated with melanoma and other types of skin cancer, as well as with photoaging.