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Sun Protection – The 10 Most Persistant Mistakes

Summer, sun, cactus – when holidays call, there’s nothing better than lying in the sun for hours.

Magnificent… if the sound of the waves and cool cocktails make the summer feeling complete. Before we totally unwind and let our soul relax, we must consider the following: sun protection. We drag out into open ten fatal mistakes which go back decades.


Mistake No. 1: Solarium sessions as perfect holiday preparation

No way! Sun beds often work with UVA radiation which avoids sunburn on the one hand but, which leads to visible damage on the other. Premature skin ageing, ugly pigment disorders etc. beat the clock a few years earlier than genetics have foreseen them – and they stay. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) advise categorically against sunbeds. If you feel like starting the holiday season nicely tanned, self-tanning lotions are clearly the better option. They don’t substitute sun protection but make you look less pale in the new bikini.


Mistake No. 2: On a cloudy day, a low SPF is just enough

OK, the short-wave UVB radiation doesn’t fully penetrate a cloud-covered sky. For a long time, it was meant to be responsible for a great tan and is therefore the most dangerous. It’s a fallacy, because UVA rays (see above) make their way down to the earth surface and go deep into our skin – even if you wouldn’t notice it straight away. Actually, certain types of skin cancer or the unpleasant acne aestivalis (also known as Mallorca acne) are mainly caused by UVA radiation. Thus, always think of putting on a sunscreen – for a beach workout as well as for a pleasant stroll through the city.


Mistake No. 3: In the city or at the office no need of SPF needed

Talking about a stroll through the city… a stimulating ice coffee for lunch break, even under a parasol, may be enough to get a heavy sunburn on your nose or on your shoulders. Noon sun is cruel… sometimes ten minutes are sufficient to get sunburned, if you have a sensitive skin even in the shade. By the way, UVA radiation does penetrate window glass too, though not as extremely as in the open air. Even if you spend all day at the office, a day creme with SPF does no harm. To be on the safe side, please check if it contains a UVA filter.


Mistake No. 4: A high SPF only needed on the beach or in the mountains

Sorry but, wrong, because it depends on the skin type. Pale, red-haired people would know exactly what we’re talking about. Sensitivity to light might even change over the years, and suddenly, pigment spots and heat spots may occur a lot faster than years before. In Central Europa, a SPF between 20 and 30 is generally recommended. Sensitive skin requires a sunscreen of SPF 50+ which is available at the pharmacy. By the way, drugs such as antibiotics or the pill may provoke skin reactions under sunlight.


Mistake No. 5: SPF 20 = a 20 times longer sun exposure

In theory, it’s correct – but most often the reality is different. The condition would be that we manage to apply at least two milligrams of sun lotion per square centimetre of skin – this has been determined by the sunscreen manufacturers’ laboratories. But the fact is that most people apply their sunscreen sparingly and irregularly. The shoulders, for example, are drowned in tons of creme while inner arms and the back of the hands are completely left out. Tip: one coffee spoon of lotion is the ideal dosage for sensitive parts like the face and the neck area, two soup spoons should be applied on the rest of the body.


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Mistake No. 6: A little sunburn in the beginning does no harm

Unfortunately, it does! Because each reddening of the skin is a warning sign of the body. Even if it’s not red as a lobster and has not blistered yet, and although you’re not running a fever – emergency cases for a doctor, by the way – your skin would always remember what it’s been going through. Here again, cells have been damaged, and although the consequences are not obvious within a week or two they will certainly become visible in a few years. Even in case of light reddenings, off to the shade! Sooth with cold water compresses, and apply sufficient moisturizer on the affected parts.


Mistake No. 7: A simple moisturizer is as good as after-sun lotion

If you believe this, you should better read the small print! First and foremost, the skin needs a lot of moisture after extensive sun exposure, and possibly a high-quality body lotion might work. Even if it’s not expressly sold as an after-sun product. Thus, have a look at the label: Hamamelis and aloe vera are good against skin irritations, vitamin C and E as well as olive leaf extract count as protection against free radicals and azulene, Biseptol and panthenol moisturize and have a soothing effect.


Mistake No. 8: A quality sunblock protects all day against damaging radiation

Have you noticed? The EU has been eliminating the term “sunblock“ on sunscreen products a long time ago, because the misleading “block” seems to promise a “total blockade” against abusive rays – as a matter of fact, this is absolutely wrong. A 100% sunblock based on cosmetic ingredients is simply not possible, but products with a SPF of 50+ absorb up to 98 percent of the UV radiation. If you want to play it safe, you better wear special cloths that guarantee full protection. Any sunblock left-overs should go to waste – the expiry date should have exceeded anyway.


Mistake No. 9: A sun allergy compels to stay in the hotel room

But not forever, please! There are remedies against an itchy and ugly sun allergy and therefore, there’s no need to do without beach and sea pleasures for the rest of your life. As a preventive measure, it’s best to take vitamin D tablets or special sun protection capsules before the holiday. Sun allergy sufferers should use gel products without greases, emulsifiers or perfumes. Since allergic reactions can be triggered by the interplay of UV rays and certain greases, emulsion-based lotions should be avoided after sunbathing. Better opt for products including Hamamelis and vitamin E.


Mistake No. 10: Best spend the next holiday at home, in your cellar

That’s bollocks! Because UV radiation has many advantages too. It becomes obvious in winter, when we’re going through our first November blues because the days are becoming shorter. We need light and sun for our wellbeing as much as we need healthy food and sufficient exercise. Instead of an expensive light therapy we should better enjoy the sun during a walk in the fresh air. The vitamin D forming on our skin thanks to the sun rays works miracles against exhaustion and fatigue. The lighter the complexion, the less sun you need to whip the vitamin D balance into shape. Oh, and before we forget, the photosensitive cells on our retine are directly connected with our hypophysis, enabling a regulated day-night-rhythm and stimulating our hormones – and this, in turn, increases the sexual pleasure.

English Translation: Danielle De Bie