Should we always use sun protection? And what protection is ideal for me?

Sunlight is essential for many body functions, including producing vitamin D and maintaining circadian rhythms. However, too much sun exposure can be harmful, as UV rays have the ability to damage skin cells, causing short and long-term damage, with skin cancer being the most serious consequence of this excessive exposure.

Thus, the use of sun protection is essential to reduce these risks.

How does a sunscreen work?

There are two types of protection: chemical filters and physical or mineral filters. The former protect the skin from UV rays by absorbing them. Sun Secret Facial Ultrafluid SPF50 with Sensilis color - 40 ml, Ref: 6984237

Physical sunscreens reflect ultra-violet radiation. These are more recommended for children (although babies under 6 months old should not use sunscreens, but avoid unprotected sun exposure as much as possible) and people with more sensitive skin, as they are not as absorbed by the skin. Photoderm Bioderma mineral spray SPF 50+ 100g, Ref: 6944710


But after all, what level of sun protection should I use?


It is recommended that everyone who spends part of the day outside wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) equal to or greater than 30. This provides approximately 97% protection from UV-B rays.

The ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun is divided into three types: UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. The latter, despite being the most harmful, is mostly absorbed by the atmosphere, in the ozone layer. Thus, when we are exposed to the sun, it is UV-A and UV-B that will reach our skin and cause effects, and it is exposure to UV-B radiation that is primarily responsible for the occurrence of skin cancer, but both lead to to premature aging of the skin.

Therefore, it is important to choose a sunscreen that protects the skin from UV-A and UV-B rays, although no sunscreen provides protection against 100% of UV rays.

Despite the harmful effects of UV-B rays, they are essential for the skin's production of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for bones and the immune system. This can also be acquired through food, but in a very small percentage and that does not satisfy the body's needs. Thus, sun exposure is very important, but it must be done in a regulated and controlled manner.

What is the difference between FPS15, FPS30 or FPS50?

The number indicates the time it would take UV-B rays to cause erythema (redness) on the skin if the sunscreen is applied exactly as directed, compared to the amount of time it would take to cause redness without sunscreen. That is, if you use a product with SPF 30 properly, it would take 30 times longer to burn than if you did not use sunscreen.

Although the sun protection factor refers only to protection against the radiation that causes erythema, namely mainly UV-B radiation, sunscreens must contain both UV-B and UV-A protection.

And how should sun protection be applied?

According to INFARMED, the recommendations for the correct use of sunscreen are:

  • Always use a sunscreen with a protection factor adapted to the skin type – the face generally needs a higher protection factor than the one chosen for the body;
  • Use sunscreen daily, in areas most exposed to the sun;
  • Apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before each sun exposure;
  • Avoid sun exposure between 12 noon and 4 pm (most harmful period according to the Portuguese Skin Cancer Association)
  • Always reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming and perspiring, as water and perspiration decrease the efficiency of sunscreens;
  • Wear sunglasses, hats and caps that help protect the face, lips and eyes;
  • Do not expose very young children directly to the sun;
  • Cloudy days also require the use of sunscreen, as on these days 40 to 60% of solar radiation passes through the clouds and reaches the Earth's surface;
  • Watch out for reflected light – sunlight bounces off sand hitting your skin, even in the shade.

So which sunscreen to choose?

Sun protection should be chosen according to skin type, family history of skin cancer, medication or photosensitizing disorders.

Acne treatments or taking antibiotics make the skin more sensitive, so in these cases, sun exposure should be avoided or, if necessary, use sun protection with SPF50+ Fotoultra100 Isdin Spot Prevent Fluid SPF 50+ 50 ml, Ref: 6933853

In cases of actinic keratosis or other forms of non-melanoma skin cancer, a specific protector such as Isdin Eryfotona AK-NMSC Fluid SPF 100+ - 50 ml, Ref:6293126 And of course, avoid unprotected sun exposure as much as possible.

If you do not have any type of pathology or associated condition, you should adapt the sunscreen to your skin type and as needed.

After sun exposure it is also essential to apply a suitable moisturizer. Sun exposure causes a very large loss of water in the skin, so it is essential to restore hydration levels.

Sunburns that arise due to incorrect or lack of use of sun protection, appear only after a few hours of sun exposure. Solar aggression has a cumulative effect, promoting premature aging and the appearance of diseases such as skin cancer, after several years or even decades.

In the case of burns, you should apply a soothing cream, such as Sesderma Hidraloe erosto body gel - 250 ml , Ref: 6547828 , based on Aloe vera, which you can put in the fridge for a more refreshing effect. Taking cold baths and drinking water helps in the regeneration and recovery of the skin. However, in more serious cases where blisters, pain and even fever appear, you should consult your doctor.


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