Too much information, often contradictory, regarding sun protection can easily confuse anyone. On the one hand, they tell us that we all have vitamin D deficiency, and that we should spend time in the sun, and on the other hand, we receive numerous warnings about harmful effects of the sun.
As concern about overall health have grown significantly over the past year and a half, on a global level, so has additional interest in sun protection. Regardless of the fact that this topic has been talked about, written about and discussed for years (maybe even decades), one gets the impression that nowadays the interest in it has reached a historical peak. Numerous campaigns have also contributed to this, raising awareness of dangers of harmful solar radiation.
The only question left is SPF, UVA, UVB, UVC and similar terms that we hear more and more… What is what and how to properly protect yourself from the sun, read below.
Let’s start with the most basic terms:
• SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor
• UVA is an abbreviation for ultraviolet A-rays – they easily penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin, damage it, and contribute to skin aging and wrinkles. Additionally these rays are responsible for creating sun burns, but not as much as UVB rays
• UVB (ultraviolet B-rays) cause sun burns and are extremely dangerous to health.
• UVC (ultraviolet C-rays) are the most dangerous ones but, fortunately for us, we have an ozone layer that protects us from them. They are weakest early in the morning and late afternoon.
There is a lot of speculation about the number that is written next to the SPF. Some believe that it is the number of minutes you can spend in the sun, then it is inversely proportional to the number of years. Let’s finally put an end to all speculations – number of SPF factors mainly refer to the level of protection it provides against UVB radiation, i.e. how long it takes for UV radiation to make your skin red. Basically, this means that with SPF 20, UV rays take 20 times longer to damage your skin compared to when you don’t have any protection.
It would be ideal to apply a layer of protection every two hours. Don’t be fooled by the number of factors – the number of hours applies to everybody. People often make mistake of applying a high factor and spend more time exposed to the sun, and often skip re-application. Take this advice seriously – apply a layer of protection every two to three hours, and more often if you are not in the shade.
If you have sensitive or damaged skin, consult your dermatologist. For people who don’t have dermatological problems, pharmacists in pharmacies or beauticians you trust can also give a recommendation. Which brand you choose is a matter of your personal preference.
Anyhow, don’t spend time in the sun without SPF and make sure you’re properly protected. And once again, the protective factor doesn’t slow down or prevent the production of vitamin D, which we need for overall bodily functions.