SUN EXPOSURE: MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS WITH THE RIGHT PROTECTION
With the help of Dr. Maria Bucci, Nutridermatologist, we discover how to maximize the benefits of the sun on our skin and organism, preventing possible risks.
Sun exposure has some undeniable benefits on our body. It favors Vitamin D synthesis, essential for the health of tissues, bones and strengthening of the immune system and promotes the production of endorphins, “feel-good” hormones that positively impact our mood. Despite these benefits, it is important to remember that the skin is put to test during the summer months due to intensive sun exposure, often without a proper protection. The result is inflammation, which triggers inflammation, acceleration of skin ageing, appearance of wrinkles and dark spots and increased risk of possible neoplasms – today, unfortunately, constantly growing.
“Exposure to the sun, especially in case of phototype 1 or 2, can lead to both acute and chronic damage on our skin” explains Dr. Maria Bucci, Nutridermatologist. “We talk about acute damage in case of reddened skin, characterized by a visible localized erythema on the sun-exposed areas: it is a damage caused by UVB rays that trigger inflammation, directly damaging the DNA of epidermal cells. These cells, equipped with protective machanisms, block the multiplication of cells with damaged DNA and can even induce their death in case of significant damage. However, with prolonged sun exposure, UVA rays interact with damaged cells favoring the release of free radicals in the body, indirectly creating a new damage”.
For chronic damage, we refer to a “damage prolonged in time and caused by UVA rays. In fact, these rays – altough less powerful than UVBs, are able to deeply penetrate the skin, reaching the dermis and triggering the process of photoaging – or cutaneous ageing -, immunosuppression and photo-carcinogenesis. Photoaging itself represent the most evident consequence of chronic sun exposure.”
WHEN AND HOW TO PROTECT YOUR SKIN
Sun exposure, for both fair and dark skin types, brings our body many benefits. “To maximize these benefits, while minimizing the downsides cause by UVA/UVB rays, it is mandatory to use protective factors adequate to our phototype, which is the reactivity of our skin to light hence the ability of tanning. How? Our dermatologist of trust, or an accurate analysis with the help of a skin test at one of our salons, can help you determine your phototype in a precise way”, suggests Dr Bucci.
The numbers stated on the lables of many sunscreen products represent the quantity of radiations that our skin, protected by sunscreen, is able to absorb before getting sunburned, compared to a portion of skin that is not protected by SPF. Let’s always make sure that the sunscreen we select are able to protect our skin both from UVA rays, main culprits for the development of melanomas, and UVB ones, which cause erythema and more superficial sunburns. In Europe, the protection factors are classified as very high (50+, for phototype 1), high (50 to 30, for phototype 2 and 3), medium (25 to 15, for phototype 3, 4 and 5) and low (10 to 6, for phototype 5 and 6 – generally very dark skin types).
The timing of sunscreen application is also crucial and does make the difference: apply your chosen product at least half hour before sun exposure, taking care of evenly distributing it and ensuring you cover often neglected areas such as nose, ears and hairline. In case of moles, cover these areas with sun block to avoid any sunburns which are the possible cause of cutaneous melanoma. Repeat the application of sunscreen every two hours, of after bathing.
It is useful to specify that, while sunscreens with SPF30 or lower need to be reapplied quite often to guarantee their efficacy, products such as tanning lotions and oils have no protection, hence do not bring any protection against deep cutaneous damage or erythema.