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What are free radicals and why do they concern us? Why apply sun protection factor every two hours? These and other questions solved by skin specialists…

In the middle of the de-escalation phase, we go like flies to honey, we want to go out, breathe, take a walk, travel, and go for the first ray of sunlight that can pierce our skin. Sin embargo, we all know that this gesture is not appropriate, that we must protect ourselves, that the skin has memory, that you have to use antioxidants, that free radicals are bad, and that the sunscreen must be replicated… But do we understand why? We are going to solve the main doubts around this universe of Sun Protection Factor and sun protection cosmetology.

What are the free radicals?

Elisabeth San Gregorio, technical director of Medik8, explain what: "Our cells have molecules and atoms that are surrounded by electrons that pair to stay stable. Sin embargo, radiation can cause multiple molecules to end up with a mismatched electron in its orbit, which is what is called a free radical. When this happens, a search arises to compensate that electron so that some molecules steal it from others, generating a vicious circle of free radicals that alter the cellular order of the skin triggering, por ejemplo, collagen and elastin deposits are lost and consequent premature aging. This can be prevented with an adequate SPF and with a good load of antioxidants on our skin ”.

What about antioxidants?

Antioxidants are like martyrs for skincare. Rachel Gonzalez, director of education for Perricone MD comments that: “Antioxidants selflessly donate their own electrons to compensate for free radicals, stopping the electron theft cycle. Además, never become dangerous like free radicals, since its stability does not depend on the loss of electrons, so they won't attack cells to steal like a free radical does. That is why antioxidants help neutralize damage caused by the sun ".

And where do they come from? Our body has its own supply of antioxidants, but they may be depleted by factors like stress or pollution. That is why it is essential to keep antioxidants recharged through a balanced diet and proper skin care..

Antioxidant ingredients:

The list of antioxidant ingredients can be endless, but roughly, can be loaded with antioxidants to the skin and body with foods rich in minerals and vitamins, as well as with topical assets. Examples? "Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants by themselves and their structure helps balance other antioxidants. They are present in many fruits such as raspberries, strawberries or cherries. Other ingredients like alpha lipoic acid (present in chlorophyll, broccoli and other green leafy foods) also have these properties, just like mangosteen peel extract, rosemary leaf oil, dragon fruit extract or saskathon berry. It should be noted, también, Copper PCA, with an antioxidant performance capacity forty times greater than some of those mentioned above ”, explains Raquel González.

SPF (sun protection factor) biological, chemical and physical

These antioxidants are what has often been called biological SPF since they make the skin more resistant. While they are a great support against radiation, require allies like a physical SPF or a chemical one. “While physical filters (normally of mineral origin) create a film on the skin that reflects sunlight, the chemicals penetrate the tissue and create a reaction that is what creates the protective capacity, transforming solar energy into heat so that it is not so harmful”, Estefanía Nieto explains, technical director of Omorovicza. There are many brands that combine physical filters with chemical filters in their sun protection products., incluso, They add ingredients to the formulas that reinforce the antioxidant function of the skin to, on the whole, create the most complete protection of the skin possible.

Many chemical filters have a bad name since there is a long history of brands that used principles that are toxic to the skin or with some instability, "But this has nothing to do with the latest generation filters that most brands currently use responsibly. There is no point in selling a filter that protects the skin and, a la vez, be toxic. It would be like killing hunger with more hunger ”, Valeria Navarro comments, technical director of Boutijour.

Why reapply the SPF every two hours?

The first, porque filter capacity is reduced by external factors, like the water (in times of pool or beach) or sweat itself, resulting in a lesser amount available than we had initially applied, pero, además, the Medik8 expert adds that “the average time of maximum efficiency of a filter is around two hours of life, that's why it's so important to reapply after this time. De hecho, there are many sunscreens that are unstable after an hour of sun exposure, like oxybenzone, por ejemplo, less and less present in these products due to the low quality it offers and its harmful effects ”.

Does the moisturizer with SPF work (Sun Protection Factor) as a protector on the beach?

No, since they are usually intended treatment products, sobre todo, for the type of exhibitions that are made during the day to day: from home to office, a short walk around town, andc. Beach SPFs should be sunscreen thought and formulated with this unique function, while SPF treatments include many more assets than what they seek is to treat the skin daily. The ideal combination is: apply the moisturizer with SPF in the morning, after the shower, and in the reapplications, put the product for sun protection only.

Does the skin have memory and saves damage from the sun?

Obviously, the skin has no memory in a literal sense, but yes figurative. This is because the damage that occurs to it is not always instantly noticeable. Bella Hurtado, director of education for Aromatherapy Associates, explain what: "It will depend on the alteration in the DNA of the cell. According to the type of alteration, it will take more or less to face. While there is instant damage such as possible burns, others are not always visible in the short term and their appearance will depend on the cellular alteration that occurs in the tissue. The appearance of spots by hyperpigmentation processes (an action produced by the skin to try to protect itself from sun damage) it may take years to appear, or aging due to a drop in collagen levels will always be seen in the medium or long term, never the same day that we expose ourselves to the sun. Además, damages can be cumulative, producing a chain of mismatches that, in the long run, end in bigger problems if sun exposure is repeated regularly ".

Photo by Ryan Christodoulou on Unsplash