UV rays and the effect on your skin microbiome
You long for the warmth of the sun on your skin and would like to spend the whole day outside? We totally understand! But before you indulge in the sun, there are a few things to keep in mind to protect your health! Because UV rays can affect the skin microbiome.
Excessive sun exposure can cause good microbes on the skin to be killed, disrupting the balance of the microbiome. This can lead to a change in the composition of the microbiome, which in turn can make the skin more susceptible to infection and inflammation.
In addition, UV radiation can also contribute to the formation of free radicals, which can further affect the microbiome. It is therefore important to protect yourself from overexposure to the sun, for example by using a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with a high UV protection factor.
7 sun protection tips: What you should pay attention to
- Choose a day cream with SPF that suits your skin type. Mineral UV filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide offer harmless protection against UV rays. Chemical filters can cause allergies and penetrate the skin. Mineral creams reflect the sun's rays and provide instant protection, but require more frequent application. Oil-free, alcohol-free, non-comedogenic, mattifying mineral sunscreen is ideal for oily skin. Soothing ingredients such as chamomile extract are suitable for sensitive skin.
Our tip: sun creams for babies offer additional protection for sensitive skin. Use enough sunscreen and care for dry skin with aloe vera extract or glycerin. Moisturizing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C or E are important for mature skin.
- Don't forget UVA protection: UVB rays are mainly responsible for sunburn. The stated SPF on sunscreens mainly indicates protection against UVB rays. However, a good sunscreen should also promise protection against UVA rays. These penetrate deep into the skin and accelerate the skin aging process. Excessive exposure can also trigger skin cancer.
- 2g sun protection: Approx. 2g of sunscreen are applied. The stated SPF on packaging is adjusted in the laboratory for amounts of 2mg/cm2 skin. If you only use half of it, it's like using half of the SPF, if at all. Theoretically, if you use SPF 50, you can stay in the sun fifty times longer than without sunscreen. However, sun protection is reduced by swimming and sweating, for example. So apply cream every 2 hours.
- Read the ingredients carefully: Mineral UV filters such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide are safe and well tolerated, but can leave a white haze on the skin. With chemical UV filters, the ingredients should be checked carefully, as some can enter the body through the skin. For example benzophenone-3, benzophenone-4, benzophenone-5, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, homosalate, octocrylene or octyl methoxycinnamate. Fragrance-free sunscreens are important to avoid phototoxic reactions and the long-term effects of sun allergy. Active ingredients such as vitamins and antioxidants such as vitamin E, C and Q10 can ward off free radicals and help the skin to repair itself and are therefore welcome ingredients in our creams!
- Speaking of ingredients: octocrylene is an ingredient found in many sunscreens. It helps protect our skin from the harmful effects of UV rays.
Octocrylene can, however, produce a substance called benzophenone. This happens through a certain chemical process. Interestingly, research shows that up to 70% of the benzophenone in these sunscreens can enter our bodies through the skin.
In a study of 16 sunscreens from various well-known brands, it was found that benzophenone was detectable even before the creams were subjected to a simulated aging process. After this process, which takes about a year, the amount of benzophenone in the sunscreens and day creams had increased significantly. This is important because the question of whether benzophenone can cause cancer is still being investigated. There are some studies that suggest it may be carcinogenic.So if you're concerned about the potential risks of octocrylene, there are alternatives. There are sunscreens on the market labeled "reef safe" or "mineral" that instead use the aforementioned zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to protect the skin from UV rays. These substances are physical filters that reflect the sun's rays instead of absorbing them like chemical filters, and they do not contain octocrylene.
- Don't forget to take a break from the sun: The process of fighting off free radicals is hard on the skin. So take a break when you're lying in the blazing sun. This is also especially helpful when trying to avoid sun allergy. Even those who feel more comfortable with a brown complexion should take a seat in the shade, as the tan sets in after just a few minutes of sunbathing. It only takes a short 15 minutes for skin to become so stressed by the sun that it tans more slowly.
- After-Sun: No UV filter offers absolute protection. After a day in the sun, the skin is bruised and usually very dry. Therefore, moisture is extremely important for the skin after sunbathing. As already mentioned, vitamin E and Q10 are good radical scavengers. However, an after-sun cream should contain dexpanthenol and vitamins C and A to repair and regenerate the damage done to the skin. You can also easily make your own after-sun products. For example, you can use quark or yogurt as a mask and remove it before it dries. Aloe Vera application is also an effective method as it is cooling, moisturizing and anti-inflammatory.
In short: UV rays can affect the skin microbiome because the rays can damage the DNA of skin cells and trigger inflammation. This can lead to harmful bacteria overtaking beneficial bacteria and impairing the skin microbiome. Excessive exposure to UV rays can also contribute to a change in skin pH, which in turn can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. It's important to protect your skin from excessive UV exposure. This can help maintain the skin microbiome and promote its health.
It's also always a good idea to consult a dermatologist or pharmacist for advice on safe and effective sunscreens that suit your skin type and specific needs. Lastly, don't forget that sunscreen is just one of many measures you can take to protect yourself from UV rays - protective clothing, hats and shades are also very important, especially during the hottest hours of the day.