Most people associate sunscreens with summer and the beach. Nevertheless, researchers give many arguments why it is important to use this cosmetic product throughout the year – even in cloudy weather and in winter.
When the sun becomes dangerous
Sunlight is vital for humans. It is under its influence that vitamin D is synthesized in the body, and insufficient exposure to the sun is one of the causes of depression and psychoemotional disorders.
But there is another side to the problem. Many people know that in the summer heat it is impossible to stay in direct sunlight for a long time, since it is a source of ultraviolet harmful to the body. However, not everyone thinks about the fact that in cloudy weather and even in winter, the same harmful UV radiation is still present in the light. This means that human skin needs protection all year round, not just in summer.
What happens when solar radiation hits the skin
Sunlight is a stream of photons, that is, particles with a certain energy. They are low-energy, which are safe for living beings. But there are also high-energy particles in the light stream. The latter are destructive, as they are capable of destroying DNA.
In addition, the Sun emits long and short electromagnetic waves. If the former are considered harmless, then the latter (ultraviolet and X-ray radiation belong to them) have a destructive effect on the human body. Fortunately, the Earth has a natural protective barrier in the form of the ozone layer, which reflects the most dangerous waves for living beings. But some of them still reach the surface of the Earth. Among them , two types of ultraviolet waves are considered the most dangerous for humans:
- UVA (soft);
- UVB (hard).
Under their influence, certain reactions are triggered in the body. Visible – a tan that appears due to the activation of melanin production. But at the same time, other changes are taking place:
- UVA destroys collagen, a protein responsible for skin elasticity;
- UVB causes redness and burns;
- both types of waves provoke DNA mutations, which then cause tumors.
There is a misconception that solar radiation is dangerous only for people with very fair skin. In fact, it is easier for light-skinned and red-haired people to get burned in the sun, but the carcinogenic effect of ultraviolet radiation is equally noticeable for all people, regardless of skin color, gender or age.
There are several ways to protect yourself from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation: avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight, hide under an umbrella and wrap yourself in clothes, or you can simply apply a cream with SPF filters to the body every time you have to be outside for a long time.
How Sunscreen Works
Sunscreen is a cosmetic product that contains particles that can protect the skin from exposure to ultraviolet light.
Sunscreen filters in the cream can be physical or chemical. In the first case, the composition of the product includes the smallest particles that reflect UV on the principle of microscopic mirrors, not allowing harmful rays to penetrate the skin. Most often, this function in cosmetics is performed by zinc oxide.
Chemical filters are substances that absorb ultraviolet light and thus keep it away from the skin. Avobenzone is usually used as such a filter. For optimal protection, it is worth using creams in which both types of filters are present.
When and how to use sunscreen
Dermatologists advise using sunscreen daily, preferring products with an SPF level of 30, which is able to block approximately 97% of UVB rays.
Even on cloudy days, almost 80% of carcinogenic ultraviolet is able to penetrate the skin. And in the case of staying near water, snow or sand that reflect the sun’s rays, the need for protection increases even more. But even when using sunscreen, you should not be in direct sun between 10 and 14 hours, as well as at a time when your shadow is shorter than your height.
In order for the sunscreen to perform its functions correctly, it is important to apply a sufficient amount of the product to the skin. According to American dermatologists, most people use only 25-50% of the required amount of sunscreen. A one-time portion of the product for 1 adult of medium build is about 30 g. It is necessary to apply the cream about 15 minutes before going out in the sun, and then it is desirable to renew the protective layer every 2 hours or after each bathing, regardless of the protection index of the cream.
The benefits of daily use of sunscreen
- Protects against erythema (redness) and prevents sunburn. Sunburn is not just blood-red skin covered with blisters. Even slight redness, which does not cause discomfort and painful sensations, are already burns. And let them look quite harmless at first, but if the situation repeats regularly, then over time it can lead to malignant degenerations in skin cells.
- Prevents the appearance and further progression of varicose veins. It is extremely important for people with vascular diseases to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, but if they take sun baths, then only with the use of a protective agent.
- Slows down photoaging. Ultraviolet radiation slows down the process of synthesizing collagen by the body, and the production of enzymes that destroy this protein substance, on the contrary, increases. Since collagen is the main substance responsible for the elasticity of the skin, reducing its amount is a direct path to the formation of wrinkles and premature aging. Do you want to slow down age-related changes? Then the sunscreen should be used daily.
- Prevents the appearance of freckles and age spots. Under the influence of sunlight, the production of melanin is activated. As a result, not only a beautiful tan appears, but also pigmented spots and freckles.
- Preserves the natural radiance of the skin. If the skin is constantly exposed to sunlight, regeneration processes slow down in it. As a result, it looks dull, loses its natural radiance. Using sunscreen avoids this.
- Prevents the occurrence of various diseases. Regular exposure to the sun without protective equipment leads to a decrease in immunity. Under the influence of UV, the risk of exacerbation of rosacea, herpes, chickenpox, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, as well as allergies increases. In addition, ultraviolet radiation is considered a factor that increases the growth of cancer cells, which is extremely dangerous for people with cancer and who are at risk.
The effect of sunlight on the human body has another dangerous feature, which should not be forgotten. The effects of UV waves accumulate in the body. This means that sunburn received in youth can cause problems not immediately, but after many years.