THE SUN : A FRIEND OR FOE TO OUR SKIN?
Excellent for your mood and a healthy glow, it’s one of the greatest pleasures of summer: enjoying the long, warm, sunny days… On the beach, in the mountains, in the city or in the countryside, the sun is a leading reason for successful holidays. And yet, its rays don’t always wish us well. Between increasing our risk of skin cancer, leading to faster skin ageing and causing allergies, the harmful effects of the sun’s rays no longer need to be proven. So, how can we enjoy the benefits of the sun feeling completely relaxed?
Let’s shed light on... the sun and its rays
The sun is the star that is closest to us. Without it, our planet would be frozen and without life. Situated in the centre of the solar system, this gigantic ball of fire emits rays of various wavelengths, ranging in intensity.The stronger its rays, the more harmful they are.
The sun doesn’t only radiate light and warmth (produced by infrared rays), but also ultraviolet and X rays. Completely invisible, ultraviolet (UV) rays help fix Vitamin D but can also cause burns, skin cancer and cataracts.
They can be divided into three categories:
- UVA rays, the least energetic but which penetrate the deepest and lead to skin ageing,
- UVB rays, which penetrate less but are more energetic, activate melanin production (i.e. your tan), and can lead to sunburns,
- UVC rays, the most energetic and most dangerous, which are thankfully blocked by the ozone layer and do not affect the skin.
Why is it hotter in summer than in winter?
Numerous factors affect the intensity of the sun’s rays. As such, its strength varies according to the season. The seasonal variability occurs based on the angle on which the Earth’s axis rotates on its journey around the Sun. The more vertical the inclination of the Sun’s rays onto the Earth, the more they warm the ground. In summer, the sun is higher in the sky than in winter, and it’s when it is closer to the zenith (the solar noon) that the Earth gets the maximum amount of UV rays. When in the mountains, don’t fall for the sense of freshness you may feel: if the temperatures are lower, the rays are stronger. The dose of UV rays increases by 4% every additional 300 meters in height. Finally, the lighter the ground, the more the sun reflects. This reverberation phenomenon is, indeed, even greater on certain surfaces such as water, which reflects 10 to 30% of UV rays, sand, which can reflect 5 to 25%, and snow, which can reflect up to 90% of UV rays!
Enjoying the sun without overdoing it
Though the sun’s dangers are widely known, a moderate, reasonable amount of sun exposure can be beneficial to the skin and your mood. Contributing to our well-being, the sun and its rays influence our production of serotonin (the happiness hormone), boost our immune system, stimulate Vitamin D synthesis, which we often don’t get enough of through food, and on top of everything, provide a healthy glow. In essence, we need it… So, to relish in its benefits mindfully, you just need to follow a few rules, whether you’re by the sea or in the city, enjoying brief travels or lunches on the terrace. Use skincare with SPF each day, such as the City Veil, which, thanks to its formula enriched with UV ray filters, protects the skin from the harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, reapply sunscreen throughout the day. It’s just what you need to have a beautiful summer!