Photoprotection 2/2

Sun protection

On the cosmetics market we have a large group of cosmetic ingredients that fulfil the function of sun protection. This list is constantly evolving and is being updated by the European Parliament in terms of functions, range of permitted concentrations and toxicity.

Proper selection of chemical ingredients including UV filters, is a challenge for manufacturers. First of all, filters have to fulfill their function which is to protect skin against harmful radiation. They should also be physically and chemically stable. Chemical substances should remain on the skin and not penetrate the dermis but at the same time be resistant to contact with water and sweat as well as mechanical abrasion.

Types of sunscreens

Mineral filters

e.g. zinc oxide, titanium dioxide

Physical filters are chemical compounds of mineral origin. They reflect and scatter solar radiation. Mineral filters are primarily used in vege and organic products for children and people with sensitive skin. They remain on the surface of the skin and do not penetrate into its deeper layers. Thanks to this they do not cause sensitization or irritation. The downside is that it leaves a white film on the skin and the particles are unevenly distributed on the skin's surface. This requires additional ingredients to help the film spread evenly over the skin, giving continuous protection. It is important to note that mineral films provide UV-B protection and relatively good UV-A protection.

Chemical filters

This is a very large group of chemical compounds - organic compounds that absorb sunlight and convert it into heat energy. A small molecule causes penetration into the deeper layers of the epidermis, and thus may cause irritation and allergy. The undoubted advantage, however, is that the consistency of the cosmetic is light and does not leave a white residue on the skin. Chemical filters can be further divided in terms of radiation absorption into:
- narrow spectrum filters - absorb UV-B radiation and part of the UV-A spectrum
- broad spectrum filters - absorb UV-A and UV-B radiation

UV-A filters include e.g.: benzoylmethane derivatives (inci: Butyl methoxydobenzoymethane)

UV-B filters are e.g.: cinnamic acid derivatives (inci: ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) or Octocrylene (inci: Octocrylene), which additionally increases the photostability of the cosmetic.

Broad-spectrum filters, including blue light spectrum - e.g.: triazine and phenylbenzotriazole derivatives (inci: methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol), which is a new type of filter, because it behaves partly like a chemical filter, i.e. absorbs radiation and at the same time partly reflects light, which is characteristic for mineral filters. Additionally, it does not penetrate into the skin.

Natural filters

The concept of natural filters is also known in cosmetics. Oils (soybean SPF 10, avocado SPF 4-15), butters (shea SPF 10) and plant extracts (green tea, aloe) contain natural form of chemical substances that are equivalent to synthetic filters. However, the protection they provide is too low and the spectrum too narrow for them to act alone. They are often included in the formula as an additional strengthening of the effect of radiation protection and as an antioxidant.

A proper sunscreen formulation should include broad-spectrum protection against both radiation, but also support protection against free radicals.

Sun protection factors

The European Cosmetics Industry Association has set up guidelines for the classification of sunscreen products, the Sun Protection Factor (SPF). The value expresses how much a cosmetic product protects the skin against UV-B radiation. It is a standard by which the consumer can determine whether a cosmetic product meets his expectations. In addition, the European Parliament has imposed a precise range of protection that must be on the packaging of cosmetics.

Sun Protection FactorSPF
Low6 - 10
Medium15 - 25
High30 - 50
Very high50+

Full sun protection

Does the concept of full sun protection exist? Certainly not! It's important to remember that no chemicals can fully protect us from the negative effects of ultraviolet and visible radiation. It's worth remembering to buy sunscreens that protect your skin against radiation in the entire UV-B and UV-A spectrum and provide high photoprotection. The blue light mentioned is also an added value. It is a relatively new concept that has arisen as electronic devices have become more popular. However, its effects will undoubtedly show up quickly on the skin.  

Sunscreen should be applied every day all year round and reapplied multiple times a day to maintain protection whether you are spending the day at the office, walking in the park, planning a vacation to exotic countries, or skiing in the winter. In addition, it is not recommended to stay in the sun from 12 to 3 pm, especially in the summer. Radiation is most intense at this time.

There is a wide range of sunscreens available on the cosmetics market and thanks to this we are able to choose the right product for our needs. The market offers products with different strengths of sun protection (SPF), different formulations (emulsion, oil, mist, stick) and even packaging (atomiser bottle, airless). This allows us to choose the right product for our needs. This also applies to the fragrance, the density of the formulation and the speed of absorption.

In addition, it is worth paying attention to the light consistency of the filter, so that after absorption you can easily put everyday make-up on.

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