Tanning is the main defense mechanism that our skin adopts to protect itself from the harmful action of UV rays. Naturally, this mechanism may be insufficient in the event of frequent, prolonged and / or uncontrolled exposure to the sun.
Sunscreens are cosmetic products that protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation. These filters can be of two types:
- Physicists (buffers);
- Chemicals (absorbents).
Physical sunscreens reflect ultraviolet radiation like real mirrors (sunscreens); while chemical filters modify the chemical structure of the radiation, restoring the energy absorbed 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 depending on the selected 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 "sun resistance" is 10 minutes, using a factor 5 filter, you pass to fifty minutes of protection (5 x 10).
Choice of solar filter
The time of resistance to the sun varies according to the individual sensitivity and for this reason the choice of the solar protector must be made based on one's 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 ( given the same skin type, in fact, children and the elderly need higher sun filters than young adults due to the sensitivity of their skin).
It is advisable to use hypoallergenic products to avoid unpleasant skin irritations.
Finally, even the type of formulation can be a discriminating factor in choosing the most suitable solar product. In fact, cream products have the highest protective power, while liquid or gel products do not always guarantee adequate protection.
For more information: Sun Protection - How to Choose It
Application of the solar filter
The application of the solar filter is just as important as the protection index.
In particular, the amount of product applied is important to protect against the negative effects of the sun. It has been calculated that to protect an adult of average build it takes about 30 grams of product, which should be re-applied every two hours or in case of baths. The dose should be increased in the first few days of tanning and decreased in the following days.
Water-resistant products (water-resistant data given on the label) can withstand approximately 30-40 minutes of immersion, while waterproof ones (waterproof) can reach and exceed the protection time. However, it is always recommended to apply the product again as soon as it comes out of the water.
Use in children
Anti-UV clothing is clothing specifically 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 sunscreens.
For more information: Anti-UV 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 occurrence of even serious side effects as much as possible.
- Expose yourself to the sun gradually. The first days, in fact, are those at highest risk because the skin is unprepared for intense and prolonged sun exposure.
- Beware of reflective surfaces, such as water, snow or sand. The risk of sunburn increases in the vicinity of these surfaces: the snow is able to reflect about 80% of ultraviolet rays, the sand more than 25%.
- Ultraviolet rays are also absorbed in the shade . It is estimated, in fact, 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.
- Attention to the tan at altitude . The intensity of the radiation increases by 12% every 1, 000 m of height: it is therefore more dangerous to expose to the mountains than to the sea and it is for this reason that in these cases it is a good rule to use solar filters with a very high protection index and possibly wear anti-UV clothing.
- Attention to water ; in fact, contrary to what one might think, ultraviolet radiations are able to penetrate even water in a percentage that exceeds 95%.
- Like the skin, the eyes can also be damaged by solar radiation . Hence the importance of always using wraparound sunglasses and dark lenses (glasses with colored or shaded lenses tend to protect the eyes from UV rays to a lesser extent).
- Do not expose yourself to the sun during the hottest hours . It is estimated that around 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.