What should we know about sunscreens?

Sunbathing is a must. We need the sun’s rays, its light, for the body to produce vitamin D, which is essential for the absorption of calcium and the consequent health of our bones. In addition, it also positively influences our mood.

But the sun can cause many problems if the necessary precautions are not taken to protect ourselves. Ultraviolet radiation A (UVA), B (UVB), and infrared rays can cause mild or severe burns, skin aging, dermatitis, and even skin cancer.

So since it would not be good to give up regular contact with the sun, the best formula to protect ourselves without ‘hiding’ is the use of sunscreen.

But the first basic thing to know is that total sun protection does not exist.

That is why it is important that the use of protectors is complemented with a series of basic premises such as avoiding exposure in the central hours of the day (between 12 and 17 hours), using physical elements that limit the sun’s rays (umbrellas, hats, clothing), wear sunglasses and drink plenty of fluids.

But what sunscreen to choose? As indicated by the Healthy Skin Foundation, for correct sun exposure we must use a cream with a sun protection factor (SPF) 30 at least. The reason is that when the protection factor measurement studies are carried out, they do so by applying 2 milligrams of cream to each square centimeter of skin, and that is very difficult for a normal person to do. Because using these amounts, in order to protect the entire skin surface of an adult, we would have to use a 30-milliliter container for a single application.

What normal people usually do is apply 0.5 mg per square centimeter to their skin. And to make up the difference, dermatologists’ recommendation is to use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and apply it generously every two hours or so. A dermatology specialist is the best person to choose the most suitable level of protection for each skin type.

The best time to apply sunscreen is before going to the pool or the beach, to ensure its complete absorption and, ultimately, its effectiveness.

Another important issue is the resistance of the protectors to water:

– Products with a “water-resistant” label achieve that 70% of the protection resists after a couple of baths, of about 20 minutes each.
– Those marked as “waterproof” resist about 80 minutes of bathing.
– In any case, the best way to avoid taking risks is to renew the cream after each dip.

An important warning, especially for those who decide to go to the north to spend the summer, is that you have to be careful with cloudy days, especially in summer. It is not true that when the clouds cover the sun, it is less harmful since there are ultraviolet rays that continue to filter.

So in summer, in those conditions, we must maintain the same protection factor and renew it with the same frequency.

And what do we do with last summer’s sun cream?

Manufacturers indicate on the packaging the expiration date of each product, both open and if we have never used it. If the cream looks strange or smells unpleasant, it is best to throw it away.

And finally, it is false that protective creams prevent or hinder tanning. Sunbathing without using sunscreen can cause serious burns.