What UV filters do we have and which ones would I recommend?

UV filter shields you against your skin’s biggest enemy: the sun. Wearing one isn’t just a fancy manifestation of luxury but a must, providing you care for keeping your skin healthy and smooth. Asian women won’t leave their homes unless they apply a facial sunscreen, even on cloudy days. Indeed, they are recognized for having flawless skin, and the example they set is worth following. In general, UV filters differ with the type of protection they offer as well as their ability to keep the sun rays at bay. When it comes to the types of UV filters, you can choose among: mineral, chemical and combination. Which UV filters to choose? What are the main differences between mineral and chemical UV filters? How to match UV filter with skin and why you should use it?

Which UV filter to choose?

Choosing UV filter should be mostly led by matching it with the type of radiation it’s supposed to protect us from.

There are three types of solar radiation distinguished:

  • UVC radiation is the most hazardous for life and health type of radiation, but luckily it’s entirely absorbed by the ozone layer. In other words, UVC radiation doesn’t reach earth hence there is no need to protect our bodies from it.
  • UVB radiation reaches dermis. It causes sunburns and damages epidermis cells, DNA and membrane proteins. Moreover, it accelerates skin aging processes and encourages cancer along with corneal degeneration and reticular corneal degeneration.
  • UVA radiation penetrates skin even deeper – it’s able to reach subcutaneous layer. As a consequence, it destroys collagen and elastin fibres in no time.

Both UVB and UVA radiations encourage the formation of cancer. Thus, a sunscreen that you will take with you on holiday has to shield you against both types of radiation.

Indeed, too much of sun negatively influences skin but it doesn’t mean that you have to hide from it. Using the right sunscreens will suffice. All the preparations which protect from UVA radiation feature either PPD (Persistent Pigmentation Darkening) or IPD (Immediate Pigmentation Darkening) abbreviation on their packaging. When it comes to the preparations shielding against UVB, they feature SPF (Sun Protective Factor) that is followed by a number referring to the degree of the protection received. It’s hard to measure the exact level at which skin is protected from UVA, therefore there is no standardized scale developed. Anyway, the degree of protection in high quality sunscreens rises together with the number that follows UVB abbreviation.

Types of UV filters

There are two types of UV filters distinguished:

  • chemical filters (among them oxybenzone and mexil),
  • mineral filters.

Although chemical filters absorb solar radiation, they don’t prevent irritations. Therefore, if your skin is sensitive, couperose or with discolorations, I’d recommend you mineral filters featuring for example zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Also kids should use the very type of filter. In short, mineral filters are able to bounce and disperse sun rays. Moreover, sunscreens enriched with mineral filters are frequently more dense.

The information indicating the type of filter that a particular sunscreen features should be easily found on the packaging.

Mineral and chemical filters – differences

Sunscreens with mineral filters contain powdered minerals, for example zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and create so-called a reflective layer on skin that deflects the sun radiation. Mineral filters don’t penetrate skin therefore they are recognized as safe for newborns. The value of such preparation is raised by possibly the most natural composition. The sunscreen you’ll choose should shield against both UVB and UVA radiation.

Chemical sunscreens can be safely applied to older kids’ skin because they pass through skin and absorb solar energy from within. On the packaging you can find information concerning the age of a kid that the product can be safely applied to.

How to match UV filter with skin?

UV filter should be well-matched with a skin prototype. In short, prototype is determined by complexion, the presence and volume of freckles, hair colour and the pace at which skin gets tanned.

A sunscreen has to be applied 20 minutes before exposing your body to the sun and reapplied every 2-3 hours. Also, you should put on the sunscreen after leaving water (even if your sunscreen is waterproof).

What’s important to realize, hands are prone to radiation as well, therefore if you don’t protect them using a special cream, you will see them aging and becoming covered by sun-induced marks really fast. Other body parts that need protection are lips, eyes and head, therefore don’t refrain from using lip balm with UV filters. Additionally, wear sunglasses and sheer hats. If possible, try to avoid the sun between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

The sad truth is that the perfect sunscreen doesn’t exist therefore you should approach the issue of sun protection with the reasonable diligence. To clarify, newborns that haven’t reached 6 months shouldn’t be exposed to the sun at all, and kids younger than 3 must be provided with special protection. What does it mean? Any outdoor activity should be performed with appropriate clothing on: sheer, best if made entirely of cotton, of light colours. The head of the kid must be shield with a hat or special cap protecting neck and ears. Playing at the beach should take place in a shadowed area or under an umbrella, before 11:00 AM and after 4:00 PM.

Why should you use UV filter?

It’s worth realizing that your skin requires being double protected if you use either preparations or cosmetics that are categorized as photosensitive. Otherwise, you can expect a phototoxic reaction developed by your body. Its symptoms resemble sunburns: after a few hours, at the very latest, of exposing the body to the sun you can observe redness, swelling, and sometimes blisters. Once the symptoms wear off, skin starts featuring discolorations that are really hard to remove.

Substances with that are photosensitive include antibiotics, sulphonamides, hypnotics, diuretics, hormones, analgesics, antifungal and anti-acne drugs. If you take any of them, you must use so-called sun blockers, which are creams that offer almost 100% sun protection.

Susceptibility to sun is also increased by some herbs including St. John’s wort, parsley, celery and dandelion. Surprising fact is that you don’t have to drink the infusions – it will be enough if your skin gets in contact with one of them while working in the garden. Similar features are shared by fragrances added to perfumes and deodorants, colourants, alcohol and essential oils.

Which UV filters do you use? I’m talking here about the types and UVB filter level. Are you satisfied with the effects? Perhaps you have to use sun blockers? Do they fulfil their task? I’m waiting for your comments!

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