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What should you know before choosing a sunscreen?

What should you know before choosing a sunscreen?

UV protection is an issue that comes up every year with the first rays of the sun, although, it should actually concern us throughout the WHOLE YEAR. It is very important to use cosmetics that protect our skin from the sun, because the UV radiation emitted by the sun reaches the earth 365 days a year. It may be strongest in summer, but this doesn’t mean that it is safe for the skin the rest of the year. This article discusses why you should protect yourself and how to do so. So read on!

Types of sunscreens

We distinguish two types of sunscreen according to the method of protection. Each type will no doubt find as many opponents as supporters. It all depends on your preferences. That’s why we briefly describe below each of these groups, so you'll know which one is right for you.

Mineral (physical) filters, among which the best known are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. These are protective substances that are applied to the skin and reflect UV radiation like "mirrors". They remain stable in the sun and, when applied together, provide a full spectrum of skin protection (UVA + UVB). The disadvantage of mineral filters, which is often mentioned by their users, is their whitening effect and dense consistency. However, in this case, everything depends on the composition, i.e. the other ingredients contained in the formula and the SPF strength – the Sun Protection Factor. If the composition of the mineral filter cosmetic includes good quality ingredients that facilitate its distribution over the skin and act as a coating for the filters, without thereby weakening their effect, such a cream is easy to apply, can be used under makeup and does not whiten the complexion. Mineral filters do not irritate the skin and are recommended for allergy sufferers, people with hypersensitive skin, pregnant women, children, as well as those with skin diseases such as AD (Atopic Dermatitis), psoriasis or eczema. However, it is very important to pay attention to "nano" mineral filters, which are usually marked as such in the product’s composition. This is because more and more studies confirm that the molecules are so small they can penetrate the body through damaged skin. For now, the research is ongoing and there will probably be more information on this subject in a few years time.

Chemical filters, are substances that don’t reflect radiation, but absorb it and convert light energy into thermal energy. Their advantages include a consistency that is light and easily absorbed. However, this type of protection is decidedly more complicated, if only because you should remember to apply it about 20-30 minutes before exposure to the sun’s rays. In addition, chemical filters are much more likely to cause allergies and skin irritations, especially if you have sensitive skin. When choosing a protective cream, also pay attention to what substance (filter) it contains. You should avoid penetrating filters, among others: Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Benzophenone-3, Benzophenone-4, Octyl Methoxycinnamate, 4- Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Homosalate, Octyl Dimethyl PABA, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane (Avobenzone), and Octocrylene.   But if you do decide on a cream with a chemical filter, choose from these: Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Ethylhexyl Triazone, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Diethylhexyl Butamido Triazone, or Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid

UVA and UVB Protection

If you have already chosen the right filter for you, whether mineral or chemical, pay attention to the spectrum of protection it provides, namely, whether it protects against both UVA and UVB. This is very important, because it is not sufficient to just protect the skin against sunburn caused by so-called short wave radiation, i.e. UVB. We must also remember about UVA radiation, which accounts for 95% of the radiation reaching the earth and is present even on cloudy days, throughout the year. This can cause photo aging of the skin, sun related allergies, discoloration and skin cancer. On the other hand, UVB (against which the vast majority of sunscreens protect us) is only 5% of the radiation that is responsible for sunburn, tanning and, like UVA, skin cancers. That is why it is so important to choose cosmetics that protect against the full spectrum of radiation, both UVA and UVB.  

Our LADY SUNSHINE protective cream with an SPF of 25 was created to protect against both UVA and UVB. Its composition includes Zinc Oxide - protecting against both types of radiation, and Titanium Dioxide – a protection against UVB radiation. According to current regulations, information on whether a cosmetic provides the full spectrum of skin protection should be clearly marked on the packaging. So check out whether the full range of protection – against both UVA and UVB – is indicated on the products you use.

Skin type and UV filter type

Many myths have arisen and unfortunately are still being repeated concerning SPF products and their application to various skin types. One of my favourites is the idea that mineral filters should not be used for oily and acne-prone skin... I wouldn’t look here at the filters themselves, but at a cream’s composition in general. If this includes oils, e.g. coconut, argan, etc., it can indeed leave a shiny, greasy layer, but I wouldn't demonize all cosmetics of this type. It is true, however, that chemical filters are much more likely to irritate sensitive and overactive skin than mineral ones. Besides, most important are the individual preferences of the skin, which in summer may react differently than in winter or spring. Therefore, even if a cosmetic with an SPF for the face has not been effective, e.g. during the summer holidays, it is worth returning to it in the autumn, when the skin's needs change and you wish to use formulas that are more regenerating.  

Remember that more important than what type of filter you choose is that you actually use it! Of course it’s always important to read the composition on the label and choose a safe, natural product, but the first priority should always be UV protection, lack of which can lead to visible changes on the skin.