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  • DIAGNOSIS - Sun Protection

Expert Advice, Hints & Tips from the Professionals

Florence Benech
Pharmacist
Director of Vichy Laboratories - Active Cosmetics

SUNCARE

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Dermatologist’s advice

Should we beware of the sun?

Did you know?
We need a little sun to be in a good mood! We also need the sun to stimulate our production of vitamin D, which is essential to stabilise bone mass. However, some of the sun’s rays can be too aggressive for the skin, particularly ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB). Ultraviolet rays are believed to be the main cause of premature skin ageing.
- UVB cause sunburn.
- UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are responsible for premature ageing of the skin.

The sun’s rays also cause the oxidation of the elastin and collagen fibres found in the dermis which ensure the skin’s youthful appearance.

Studies have shown that women who regularly wear a sunscreen to protect from UV rays have skin that appears to be on average 4 years younger than the skin of other women (Source: Ipsos Centres Santé de la peau Vichy). UVB and UVA rays can also cause allergies and pigmentary disorders.

What to do on a daily basis:
You must protect your skin from UV rays all year long. UVB rays are stronger during the summer, but UVA rays are present all year round and are just as strong when the weather is cooler.

Beware of sun exposure when you’re in the mountains (skiing, hiking, etc.), because snow reflects UV rays three times more than sand and 6 to 8 times more than water.

A sunscreen that protects against ultraviolet radiation is essential to help defend your skin from exposure to the sun. Choose a product that is appropriate for your phototype and for the climate where you live. Consult your pharmacist if you are unsure. Don’t forget to wear a hat and sunglasses since eyes are also exposed to the sun’s rays, which can damage the crystalline lens (opacity in the crystalline lens is known as a cataract).

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Dermatologist’s advice

How should I soothe and treat sunburn?

Did you know?
Sunburn is a real burn to the skin caused by the sun. The paler the skin, the more sensitive it is to sunlight. The skin can warm up and become red and painful in as little as 15 minutes. The superficial layer of the epidermis becomes damaged and dehydrated, and falls off. Sunburn is usually a first-degree burn, but it can be much more serious. If there are blisters on the skin, then it counts as a second-degree burn. Regular sunburn increases the risk of skin melanoma, so make sure you avoid it.

What to do
When you have sunburn, if your skin is just slightly red and warm, apply a hydrating cream or gel. This will cool you down and your skin will do the rest to heal itself providing you avoid any further sun exposure. If you have first-degree burns, you can use an analgesic (aspirin, paracetamol, etc.) to ease the pain in conjunction with a soothing cream recommended by your pharmacist. Apply the cream several times a day on the red areas of the skin and stay in the shade for a few days. If your skin is damaged (second-degree burn), see a doctor.

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Dermatologist’s advice

What are the risks of a mole becoming a melanoma?

Did you know?
Moles, also known as beauty spots or nevi, are composed of a group of melanocytes, the cells that manufacture the skin’s pigment, melanin. Moles appear progressively throughout a person’s lifetime. Some remain the same while others change size, shape or colour and should be checked by a dermatologist.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops from melanocytes. It has been clearly established that excessive exposure to sunlight, especially in childhood, is one of the main factors responsible for the development of melanoma, especially in people with fair skin.

What to do
Avoiding sun exposure altogether is the best way of preventing a melanoma – but that’s not always easy for people who love being out in the sun! However, you can expose yourself in a safe way, especially if you have moles. Avoid the sun when its rays are at their peak (from noon to 4 p.m.), apply a sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply it every two hours and after each swim. Wear protective clothing and a hat. If you notice any change in a beauty spot, see a dermatologist immediately.

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Pharmacist’s advice

How do I choose a sunscreen for my skin type?

Did you know?
We all have a different "sun capital” that we progressively use up with repeated exposure. Although our skin can repair some of the damage caused by UVA and UVB rays, it cannot do so indefinitely. This is why it is important to help maintain this capital with sun protection products adapted to your skin type. The paler your skin, the higher the SPF of your sunscreen must be. You should reapply the sunscreen often, so choose a texture that you are comfortable with.

What to do
In order to protect your skin adequately, choose a sunscreen with a high SPF and make sure you reapply it several times during the day, at least every two hours. Since you must apply your sunscreen often, choose a product with a texture that you like. If your skin is oily, choose a product that has a fluid and mattifying texture. If it is dry, choose a rich cream or milk. For children, use sprays that are easy and fun to apply. Some formulas are coloured to help you make sure you are spraying the sunscreen evenly.

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Pharmacist’s advice

Does skin with freckles need stronger sun protection?

Did you know?
The medical name for freckles is ephelides. They represent a more concentrated local production of melanin pigment. Freckles are more common in redheads who have lighter and reddish-brown melanin (pheomelanin) and fairer skin. Unfortunately, pheomelanin doesn’t protect the skin against UV rays as well as the darker melanin (eumelanin). People with red hair therefore have skin that is more sensitive to sunlight and needs stronger sun protection.

What to do on a daily basis
People with freckles usually have fair skin that must be well protected from the sun’s rays. If you have freckles, limit your sun exposure, shield your skin with protective clothing and wear a hat. Choose a sunscreen that has a high SPF (50+).

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Pharmacist’s advice

How do I protect myself from the sun if I am bald?

Did you know?
The skin that covers the head is particularly exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) rays. Normally, a person’s hair will protect this highly sensitive area. The risk of sunburn is therefore much greater for people who are bald. Without hair to protect it, the skin on the head is exposed to UVA and UVB rays all year long, not only in summer. Since the risks of developing skin cancer are greater, year-long sun protection is essential.

What to do
Wearing a hat remains the best protection, but if you can’t stand anything on your head, then you must apply a sunscreen or a moisturiser with an SPF every day. Be extremely careful when you’re out in the sun. Do not expose yourself without wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 50+, which you should reapply at least every two hours.

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Pharmacist’s advice

Does the tan I get with a self-tanner protect my skin?

Did you know?
Self-tanners colour the skin and the result is not the same as a tan. This type of product usually contains DHA (dihydroxyacetone), a chemical compound that turns brown when in contact with the amino acids on the skin’s surface. There is no production of melanin, the pigment that is the skin’s natural protective agent against ultraviolet rays. This means that you are not protected from the harmful effects of the sun.

What to do
Self-tanners are designed to lightly colour the skin when you cannot or do not wish to go out in the sun. However, if you do go out in the sun you must wear a sunscreen that is appropriate for your skin type and the climate conditions.

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Pharmacist’s advice

How do I choose a sunscreen for my skin type?

Did you know?
We all have a different "sun capital” that we progressively use up with repeated exposure. Although our skin can repair some of the damage caused by UVA and UVB rays, it cannot do so indefinitely. This is why it is important to help maintain this capital with sun protection products adapted to your skin type. The paler your skin, the higher the SPF of your sunscreen must be. You should reapply the sunscreen often, so choose a texture that you are comfortable with.

What to do
In order to protect your skin adequately, choose a sunscreen with a high SPF and make sure you reapply it several times during the day, at least every two hours. Since you must apply your sunscreen often, choose a product with a texture that you like. If your skin is oily, choose a product that has a fluid and mattifying texture. If it is dry, choose a rich cream or milk. For children, use sprays that are easy and fun to apply. Some formulas are coloured to help you make sure you are spraying the sunscreen evenly.

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Psychologist’s advice

Rainy days seem to bring me down… Does sunshine really cheer you up?

Did you know?

We can’t live without sunshine, which is why the very idea that the sun could disappear can create anxiety in many of us. The sun also represents holidays, leisure, rest and relaxation – happy times! From a neurological point of view, the brain’s activity is regulated by the cycles of day and night. During the day, it secretes more serotonin and dopamine, which keep us awake. These two substances influence our feeling of well-being and cheerfulness, and their production increases when we are exposed to sunlight, which could explain our good mood when we’re out in the sun.

What to do

If you crave sun exposure, go for it. The sun will give you energy and will intensify your good mood. However, make sure the sun doesn’t become your enemy. Don’t expose yourself during the hottest hours of the day. Protect your skin with a sunshade, wear light clothing, a hat and sunglasses, and regularly apply a sunscreen.

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