Protect yourself from the sun to protect your health. You hear and see this slogan many times during the sunny season. Indeed, the sun produces rays that are great for getting a nice tan, but you should not forget that they can be harmful to your health if you do not follow certain rules.
What are sun rays?
Sun rays are found in different forms.
- Direct rays : They are the UV rays of the sun, and theys reach directly to the skin. Their intensity depends on time of day, the season, the latitude and the altitude.
- Reflected rays: They result from the reflection of sun rays on a reflective surface, such as snow that perfectly reflects the sun rays, unlike the asphalt of the roads, that reflects virtually no sun radiation.
- Diffuse rays: These rays come from the atmosphere, whether the weather is sunny or not. They pass through the clouds and are diffused onto the whole earth's surface.
What are UVs?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun or an artificial source.
There are three type of UV rays:
UVAs: They account for around 95% of the UV rays that reach the earth. They can penetrate the deep layers of theskin. They can go through windows and penetrate the skin up to the dermis. They are responsible for the immediate suntan effect and contribute to skin ageing and the appearance of wrinkles.
UVBs: UVBs are partially filtered by the atmosphere. They do not penetrate beyond the superficial layers of the skin. They are responsible for suntan and delayed and immediate sunburns.They contribute to skin ageing by damaging the collagene fibres. UVBs are stopped by the windows.
UVCs: These are the most harmful UVs, but they are entirely filtered out by the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere, and do not reach the surface of the earth.
How to protect from UVs?
According to the WHO, in order to safely enjoy the sun, you need to follow a few simple rules:
- Stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm in the summer.
- Never fall asleep in the sun.
- Seek shade or create shade.
- Wear protective clothing.
In all circumstances, in addition to these safety rules, you need toaapply a sun screen and pay attention to the UV protection index.
How to choose a sun cream?
The sun cream should block UVAs and UVBs, and its protection index should be above 15.
It should be applied to all exposed skin , with a particular focus on the most exposed parts such as the ears, the nose, the forehead and the back of the neck. It should be applied in a thick layer every 2 hours, especially after swimming or exercising.
The protection index will be selected based on the skin's sensitivity and the sun exposure:
- A sensitive, light skin that easily gets sunburnt will need a SPF50+ sun creams that provides very high protection.
- A medium, slightly darker skin that tans easily will need a SPF30sun cream
- Resistant skins that are dark or very dark, never get sunburnt and tan quickly will need a SPF20 sun cream
The Afssaps (French health products safety agency) recommends to avoid sun exposure for babies and young children.
They recommend reasonable sun exposure combined with the use of an appropriate sunscreen for the child's skin type and the sun conditions. In addition, it is advised to apply the sun protection product before exposure to the sun et to reapply regularly, especially after sweating, swimming or towel drying.
The Afssaps draws consumers' attention to the fact that the protection level is significantly reduced when an insufficient amount of product is applied.
Finally, the Afssaps reminds that the use of a sun protection product is just one of the ways of preventing skin damages induced by UV rays, and the use of protective clothing should not be neglected: broad brim hat, sunglasses, T-shirt, …).