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Our advice on choosing the right sunscreen

Taking advantage of the summer sun to get a tan and bring back a tanned skin from holiday is a pleasure. However, it's important to take care when exposing yourself to the sun. Sunscreen are essential for those who take care of their skin. But with so many options to choose from, how do you make the right choice? We'll give you some expert advice below.

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Why should you apply sunscreem ?


Firstly, sunburn can occur in less than 10 minutes, causing 2 days of pain.


Secondly, the long-term consequences are more serious: premature ageing, spots, depigmentation, as opposed to tanning. This aesthetic damage is the opposite of the desired effect of tanning.


More seriously, the risk of skin cancer threatens all skin types, even tanned skin. UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the skin despite parasols or clouds, are the culprits. In Luxembourg, more than 500 cases of skin cancer are recorded every year, making it the most common form of cancer.


Between protection and tanning, sun cream provides a long-lasting tan, unlike sunburn.

The key elements of an effective sun cream


When choosing a sunscreen, it's crucial that it has certain essential characteristics:


- Broad-spectrum protection, covering both UVB and UVA rays (although it's best to check).

- A sun protection factor of at least SPF 30 or even 50.

- The absence of ingredients potentially harmful to health, such as :

o Parabens, preservatives known to disrupt hormones, under the names methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben or propylparaben.

o Retinyl palmitate (or vitamin A palmitate), an antioxidant labelled as a carcinogen

o Benzophenones, used to make the cream transparent but which can have toxic effects, known as oxybenzone, BP-1, BP-1, BP-2, BP-3 or BZ-3, Escalol 567, Uvinul M40, Uvasorb Met, ethylhexyl methoxycinnate, or oxtionoxate.


There are 2 types of sunscreen

Two categories of sunscreen are available, based on their protective mechanism:


- Chemical filters absorb UV rays instead of the skin, raising concerns for corals. Hawaii has even banned them to preserve its marine ecosystem. Brands are adapting their formulas to minimise their impact, working with environmental NGOs.

- Mineral filters act as a physical barrier, reflecting UV rays thanks to titanium dioxide or zinc. Nanoparticles are sometimes used to make application easier, but it is advisable to avoid sprays because of the risk of inhalation.


Apply frequently and generously


Once you've chosen your sunscreen, it's time to use it properly to ensure its effectiveness. If you've opted for chemical filters, note that they take 30 minutes to take effect after application.


In all cases, remember to reapply every two hours. And above all, apply generously. Tests show that we tend not to apply enough.


To assess the protection factor of a cream, manufacturers recommend applying 2 mg/cm² of skin. This is the minimum for reproducible results. Outside the laboratory, doses are much lower, at around 0.5 mg/cm². The quantity influences the quality of protection: an SPF 50 cream blocks 2% of UV rays, but with 1 mg/cm², this rises to 14%, and up to 33% with 0.5 mg/cm².


Equip yourself intelligently


You've opted for a brand, but how do you choose the right SPF and the right format? The ideal combination: high SPF and small size.


A higher SPF compensates for insufficient application of cream. The small format encourages you to reapply regularly, ensuring optimum protection.


Each product has a theoretical maximum lifespan. However, there are some practical signs that indicate when it's time to throw away your tube of sunscreen:

- repeated exposure to heat (sunny beach, hot car, etc.),

- intrusion of sand or water

- changes in appearance (lumps, separation)

- leakage of liquid before mixing

- a change in odour that becomes unpleasant.


Prevention is better than cure

Avoiding the sun is the best defence against its effects. This precaution is essential for children, because of their sensitive skin. Unprotected overexposure during childhood increases the risk of skin cancer in adulthood.


Opt for shade at hot times, protective glasses and covering clothing, such as UV T-shirts.


When you set up your HQ in shady areas, look at the benefits: less time applying sunscreen, more time enjoying ice cream!

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