By Diana Ibarra Mayorgac ● October 2013
Present society considers a tanned skin healthy a sign of wellness. Sun tanning is socially accepted and fashion calls for the beauty of a good suntan. However, our skin’s expositions to sunlight has important beneficial effects as well as some unwanted ones when we do not take some timely precautions. History shows us how, dating back to the XVIII and XIX centuries women protected their skin with umbrellas and hats. The taste for sun tanning is relatively recent. In the XX century, in the war periods, Coco Chanel makes suntanned skin fashionable and in the most recent years the unwanted effects of exposition to the sun have been the question of intense studies.
A knowledge about sun tanning, their function and necessary precautions will be very helpful both light and severe consequences.
• Safe times of exposure:
SPF (in relation to UVB filters) Safe times of exposure
No Protection:…………. 20 min
Factor 8:………………….. 40 min
Factor 11:………………… 40 min
Factor 15:………………… 4 hours
Extreme 30, 50, 100:.. 6 hours
SPF is an element easily associated with sunscreens and frequently not correctly interpreted.
SPF indicates the time multiple protected skin can be exposed to obtain the same effect of skin coloring if no protection was applied. This is the way to avoid erythema or sunburn, as opposed to same time of exposure without sunscreen.
As an example: If one person can expose to the sun on the first day for 10 minutes without suffering from sunburn, a 15 SPF used carefully protects him/her for 150 minutes (10 times 15), this can vary somewhat depending on the product and type of skin.
SPF is therefore an indicator of the time we can expose to the sun with no risk of sunburn. The higher the SPF the higher the protection against the sun’s rays.
• Prevention Measures:
- Avoid long exposures to the sun from 12 noon to 4pm (when the sun’s radiation is most dangerous).
- Using a hat, sunglasses and adequate clothes to protect you from deliberate exposure to the sun.
- Apply sunscreen right before every exposure to the sun and apply it frequently during the day, especially after swimming and perspiring.
- Using sunscreen even at high altitudes especially while mountain climbing and skiing.
- Do not forget to apply sunscreen on cloudy days.
- Applying sunscreen when there is a risk of skin cancer (those who work outdoors, those with lighter skin and people who have suffered it).
- Some medications make you photo sensible making it a must to use some kind of sunscreen.
- It is very important not to expose months-old babies to the sun. From six months on they can use sunscreen and limited exposures to the sun.
- One must teach the children about the dangers of exposure to the sun from an early age as the damage continues with each exposition and accumulates throughout one’s life.
- If you develop an allergic reaction to a certain sunscreen you must discontinue and change brands immediately. There is a great variety, even some gel-based products that avoid the whitish, greasy feel you get from many sunscreens.
Until next time…
Diana Ibarra Mayorga – Cosmetologist