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The fans of sun bathing are happy to welcome back summer, while many others are worried about the risks related to the sun such as skin aging and cancer. For responsible sun exposure, it is necessary to adopt good habits and to choose the right sunscreen. To assist you in this process, Gaëlla from Derme answered several questions to clarify and demystify popular and inaccurate beliefs on this subject.
What are the effects of prolonged sun exposure without protection?
Long sun exposure without protection can cause painful short term consequences, but also leave subsequent illnesses, jeopardizing the health of the skin or cause cancer. Here are some important definitions:
Sunburn: Burns that are generally painful and can leave scars, cause dark spots and premature aging of the skin.
Skin thickening: The thickening of the skin is a natural phenomenon to protect against the sun. This thickening is not visible to the naked eye. By becoming thicker, the epidermis is better at stopping the UV rays. But it can cause acne a few days after exposure.
Skin aging: Dehydration of the skin, destruction of the elastic fibers and modification of the collagen after long exposure to the sun without protection. The skin relaxes, expression lines get a little deeper and cell renewal is slowing down. As we age, the skin becomes thinner and more fragile: pigmentation spots become more numerous, lines form around the mouth and the skin becomes flabby.
Skin cancer: Malignant tumors are developing at the expense of skin cells. Their main ally: the sun. The commonly affected areas are the ones being exposed to the ultraviolet light the most: face, arms, hands, neck and shoulders.
What is the difference between UVA and UVB
When our skin is exposed to sunlight without protection, it quickly becomes inflamed and red, and this can also be very painful. This is the doing of the UVB only. The UVB are responsible for sunburn (burns) that appear up to 24 hours after exposure. Apart from these short-term effects, it also promotes skin aging and the appearance of skin cancer. Having no visible adverse short term effects, the UVA rays may seem harmless. However, their action is sneaky. They reach the deepest layers of the skin where the DNA can be altered and generate cancer cells. The major problem is that they penetrate the windows without ever causing burns (sunburn). Their danger is aggravated because they reach the epidermis without us being aware of it, for example while we are in our car, at home or work etc.
How can we prevent sun damage?
The vast majority of sun damage is caused by accidental exposure (78% of all cases). It is therefore very important to apply sunscreen daily, even when we do not expect to enjoy the sun. Our skin will be protected from those sneaky UVA rays that pass through the windows without causing a burning sensation. Finally, to prevent sun damage, it is essential to prepare the skin before exposing it.
How can we prepare the skin before sun exposure?
A good preparation is done in three steps:
Step 1 – Exfoliation: For a golden and durable tan it is necessary to exfoliate the skin of your face and body. The exfoliation removes dead cells on the surface of the skin to allow new and more enduring skin cells. For this step, we suggest the Three minute gommage/exfoliating cream by Nelly de Vuyst or the peeling with plant-based keratolysis, an exfoliating treatment made from plant extracts that works deep into your skin.
Step 2 – Hydration: Moisturizing the skin in depth allows for a better cell function and greater elasticity of the epidermis. The skin is healthier, and the golden tan is lasting even longer.
Step 3 – Protection: The last step is by far the most important. By following a few basic rules, it is possible to prevent sun damage. By protecting your skin with sunscreen at all times (even when we spend the day in a car or inside), we are making sure that we are protected from both, the UVA and UVB. Finally, at the time of sun exposure, patience is the key to success. Short sessions under the sun allow you to tan gradually without damaging the epidermis, for a healthier skin.
Is it possible to heal the skin following sun damage?
By using a skin scanner, it is possible to see some dark spots that are impossible to see with the naked eye. Over time, these spots, resulting from accumulated damage, can appear on the surface of your skin. By taking care of your skin today, you will prevent the appearance of dark spots. A skin examination is highly recommended. Short term, long sun exposure without protection can damage the skin and make it sensitive or greasy. Long term, it is possible to notice skin aging. After determining the skin problem in question, we can react by using the appropriate treatment.
Sensitive and abused skin: To soothe the skin and promote cell regeneration the Sensitive Skin cream by Nelly de Vuyst is ideal. Made with St. John’s wort, this cream is soothing and promotes the production of new cells.
Damaged skin: To repair the damage caused by the sun and rebuild the cell membrane, the Cellular-Matrix Oil by Nelly De Vuyst is the product to favor. Made with borage oil, vitamin C and E, this oil is excellent for people with damaged skin.
Oily Skin: The sun increases the production of sebum and the presence of blackheads. Created for oily skin, the purifying facial by Nelly De Vuyst, made with seaweed, tightens pores and improves skin texture.
Skin aging: It is more difficult to counteract this type of problem, but there are some options. To treat aging skin, opt for the stimulating anti-aging products by Nelly de Vuyst or the firming facial. Promoting cell regeneration, this treatment made from Kigelia africana and Quillaja Saponaria visibly rejuvenates your skin. Finally, radio frequency treatments and intense pulse light therapy may be options for those who are open to this type of technology.
Dark spots and hyper pigmentation: The Radiance Cream by Nelly de Vuyst helps treat hyperpigmentation. Made from red algae, it brightens the complexion and reduces the appearance of dark spots.
Does a higher SPF (Sun Protection Factor) guarantee better protection?
It is important to understand the SPF to choose a sunscreen that works for you. The SPF defines the amount of ultraviolet rays blocked by the sunscreen and the amount of time we are protected. You have to add a “0” to the SPF to know the exact time:
With a SPF 15, your skin is protected from the sun for 150 minutes (2.5 hours).
With a SPF 30, your skin is protected from the sun for 300 minutes (5 hours).
With a SPF 60, your skin is protected from the sun for 600 minutes (10 hours).
Taking in consideration the heat and sweating, all the sunscreens are ineffective 3 hours after application. Therefore a sunscreen with a SPF 30 is completely sufficient. What is the problem with a sunscreen that has a SPF 30 and higher? They give you a false sense of security, and contain a larger amount of unnecessary chemicals that can lead to increased reactions in people with sensitive skin. We suggest the sunscreen SPF 30 by Nelly de Vuyst, since as mentioned above, this is completely sufficient.
How should we choose our sunscreen?
Ideally, you should choose a sunscreen with a SPF 30 and apply and reapply every two to three hours. Some creams only protect against UVB. When shopping for your sunscreen, make sure that the words “broad spectrum” or “protection against UVA and UVB” appear in the description.
Are facial creams containing sunscreen sufficient to protect the skin?
Using a facial cream containing sunscreen is great for daily protection against the UVs. However, because the sunscreen wears off after two hours, it is important to always carry a sunscreen with you and to reapply every two hours.
By being vigilant and patient you will not only protect yourself against solar radiation, but also get the beautiful tan everybody desires. The skin examination with a scanner and the suggested creams and treatments are all available at Strøm. Wishing you a great summer in the sun, always keep in mind the importance of taking care of your skin!
To discover the facials offered at Strøm Nuns’ Island, click here.
To discover the facials offered at Strøm Mont-Saint-Hilaire, click here.