03 February 2023

Protection against the harmful effects of UV radiation on the skin

Ochrona przed szkodliwym działaniem promieniowania UV na skórę

The market of cosmetic products containing filters that protect against the harmful effects of UV radiation is still developing, showering us with a multitude of drugstore and pharmacy sunscreen creams. What do we need to know about sunscreens to make the right choice?

Why is the use of day creams with UV filters so important?

UV radiation is essential for the proper functioning of the organism. However, in recent years, the adverse effects of UVA and UVB radiation on the human body have been very strongly emphasized. It is harmful to the eyes, contributes to the appearance of photoallergic and phototoxic reactions. In addition, it leads to photoaging of the skin, which results in wrinkles, dilated vessels, pigmentation disorders, changes in skin quality and pre- and cancerous changes. The human body defends itself against UV rays by producing a protective dye – melanin, as well as by thickening the stratum corneum. Unfortunately, these mechanisms are insufficient for complete protection. For this reason, creams containing UV filters should be used every day.

What UV filters are used in day creams?

In day creams, two groups of filters are used. The first group consists of physical (mineral) filters, which work by reflecting or dispersing light, creating a protective film on the surface of the skin. They do not penetrate deep into the skin, are very well tolerated by it and rarely cause hypersensitivity reactions, so they are especially recommended for people with sensitive or allergic skin. The second group consists of chemical filters. Their action is based on the absorption of energy carried by UV radiation. They have the ability to penetrate shallow into the epidermis, also have antioxidant effects and neutrale free radicals.

How to choose the right factor?

The protective effectiveness of cosmetics against UVB radiation is determined by the SPF sunscreen factor. SPF is short for Sun Protection Factor. This symbol indicates the level of skin protection against UVB radiation. It indicates how long after the cream is applied, the skin can be exposed to sunlight to prevent burns. The higher the SPF, the better the protection. It is also worth checking whether the cosmetic contains UVA protection filters, the degree of protection of which is determined by the PPD coefficient, which is an abbreviation of the English name of the "Persistent Pigment Darkening" indicator.

To ensure effective protection, the filter preparation should be applied at a rate of 2 mg per cm2 of skin, re-applying the cream every 2h.

What else should we remember?

About the proper storage of these type of creams, as their excessive exposition to sunlight can cause changes in the chemical composition. The product then loses its protective properties, and the resulting substances can be allergic and cause irritation.

It is worth noting that the use of creams containing both UVB and UVA filters does not guarantee complete protection. Therefore, on very sunny days, it is better to avoid the sun, especially between 11 AM and 3 PM, wear sunglasses, drink plenty of water and remember to cover your head.

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