The sun is already proudly showing its rays, meaning the time when all lovers of warmth and sun decide how to protect their skin from the adverse effects of UV radiation has come. Because care for skin before, during and after sunbathing is extremely important, in this article you will find the important information and tips on how to get it right when choosing a safe care.

In recent years, some of the articles on the internet have tried to make us fear the sun, but we should not consider the sun as our enemy. After all, without the sun there could be no life on Earth at all. In addition, the sun provides us with vital vitamin D and, without doubt, good mood. Rather, we should focus on how to work with the sun so that we can take the good from it and eliminate the negative effects caused by the thinning ozone layer, to which we as humanity are contributing significantly.

Care Before Sunbathing

Before we start choosing suitable sunscreen and (after)sun cosmetics, it is worth remembering a few useful things.

  • It is essential to take your skin phototype into account when in the sun. You should adjust the length of time you stay in the sun and the SPF level accordingly.
  • The time of year and where you live also play an important role (e.g. it is easier to get sunburnt in spring than at the end of summer and where the sun shines evenly all year round, the skin is more resistant than in places where the sun shines less, etc.).
  • Don't forget to also take into account the length of time in the sun and the time of day (morning/noon/afternoon). The distance that UV rays have to travel through the atmosphere is the shortest in the afternoon, when the sun is directly above us. In the Netherlands, the sun's power is strongest between 12.00 and 15.00.
  • Young children should be in direct sun as little as possible for long periods of time (infants under 1 year ideally not at all, protect them with mechanical sun blocks). 
  • In addition to sunscreen, you can also protect yourself by wearing the right clothing and accessories (headwear, clothing with UV filters, good quality sunglasses). 
  • Don't forget that UV rays can reach you even in the shade due to reflection. Therefore, do not underestimate the protection even when under a parasol, etc.
  • A diet rich in antioxidants will also help protect your skin from the harmful effects of radiation (e.g. free radicals).
  • One way to prepare sensitive skin for sun exposure in advance is to take an astaxanthin supplement (e.g. ProLife from Trime, Astaxanthin from Viridian, Astaxanthin from Dr. Mercola).

Remember that the sun's rays are essential for life (especially for the natural production of vitamin D), so excessive sun protection is not good for your health either!

UV radiation and its types

Ultraviolet radiation is electromagnetic radiation invisible to the human eye, whose natural source is the only star in our system - the Sun.

In terms of the biological effects of UV radiation, there are three types:

  • UVA - accounts for most of the UV radiation that reaches the Earth's surface. It causes skin aging, wrinkles, reduced skin elasticity, age spots and pigmentation. It penetrates the deeper layers of the skin, affects DNA and can cause cancer.
  • UVB - is harmful to living organisms. It penetrates the upper layers of the skin, causes skin burns and contributes significantly to skin cancer. UVB radiation also damages eyesight.
  • UVC - this is the most dangerous of the UV rays, harmful to living organisms, but because it is used to form ozone and does not reach the earth's surface, it does not need to be given special attention when sunbathing.

It is therefore important to focus primarily on protection from UVA and UVB radiation when selecting suitable sunscreens.

Care During Sunbathing

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

The sun protection factor (SPF) determines the degree of protection against primarily UVB radiation (the UVA protection factor should be listed separately on the product). The SPF basically indicates how much UV radiation penetrates our skin and how much time we can spend in the sun without burning if we apply sunscreen correctly. How long a sunscreen will protect against sunburn for a particular individual is closely related to the phototype of their skin.

Example: the skin of a person with the most common phototype is able to "protect" itself for an average of 20 minutes, i.e. in about this time sunburn will occur.  So if the individual uses a sunscreen with SPF 15 to protect himself, this means that the time before sunburn occurs is extended to 300 minutes = approx. 5 hours (20 min.*15 SPF). Please note that it IS NECESSARY TO RENEW THE SUNSCREEN REGULARLY, usually about every 2 hours depending on the recommendation of the manufacturer of the particular sunscreen.

In this context, it is important to note that considering these figures only apply to certain, let's say ideal conditions, the amount of SPF factor is a rather confusing criteria when choosing a suitable sunscreen. In fact, the differences between the amount of UVB rays that penetrate the skin even through the filter are almost negligible from one factor to another (SPF 100 protects against 99%, SPF 50 against 98%, SPF 30 against 96.7% and SPF 15 against 93%).

Chemical vs. Mineral Filters

When choosing a tanning cosmetic, it is crucial to look at the ingredients of the products. Since we apply sunscreens/sprays/oils to a large area of skin (sprays can also be inhaled, lip balms can be licked off, etc.) and repeat their application regularly (several times a day, several days a week, etc.), it is really important that they contain only non-harmful (non-toxic) ingredients. 

Chemical Filters

Conventional sunscreen cosmetics contain chemical filters in most cases (most often oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate or a combination of these), and in some products the chemical filters are supplemented by one of the mineral filters. Studies have shown that some chemical filters act as endocrine disruptors (i.e. they negatively affect the human hormonal system) and can cause skin irritation. Oxybenzone is considered the most dangerous in this context and has also been shown to have a toxic effect on corals and other aquatic organisms (this problem also applies to other substances, not just oxybenzone).

Mineral Filters

Mineral filters, specifically zinc oxide, clearly appear to be a safer option.

Unlike chemical filters, which absorb UV radiation directly in the skin, mineral filters form a barrier on the surface of the skin and do not let UV radiation into the skin, they reflect it. It is therefore important to renew their layer regularly, as mechanical abrasion occurs during various activities.

  • Zinc oxide

    The most suitable (and non-toxic) mineral filter is clearly zinc oxide, which protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. It is suitable for all phototypes and does not cause skin irritation. It is also very well proven from a safety point of view, as it has long been used in other topical treatments such as calamine emulsion and diaper rash cream.

    • Titanium dioxide
    Titanium dioxide is widely used in sunscreens. However, it is important to note that it only reliably protects against UVB radiation and only partially against UVA. Titanium dioxide should always be used in combination with zinc oxide to achieve true broad-spectrum protection. If for any reason we decide to use a sunscreen with titanium dioxide the first thing we should check is that it is in a non-nano size. It is also important to check that there is no coated titanium dioxide used in the cream.
    "To improve its properties in the cream, it tends to be coated with other substances, most commonly alumina (aluminum oxide) or silica. However, under certain conditions (especially contact with chlorinated water, i.e. with certain substances contained in chlorinated water, and subsequent exposure to sunlight), alumina-coated titanium dioxide breaks down, causing titanium to form free radicals in the skin in combination with sunlight and thus becoming a health hazard. (Zinc also has this ability, but to a much lesser extent.) It is for this reason that it is important that a cream containing mineral filters also contains high quality base oils with a high antioxidant content. It is also for this reason that we cannot recommend titanium dioxide as 100% safe." (1)


    Care After Sunbathing

    After sunbathing, it is a good idea to treat your skin with oils or butters rich in vitamin E (an antioxidant), which bind free radicals to reduce the risk of skin cancer and wrinkles, such as Shea butter. It can be used as a moisturizer before and after sun exposure to promote radiant skin in extreme conditions. We are offering refined and naturally deodorized Shea butter from Alteya with USDA Organic certicifation. You can also try using raspberry oil, sunflower oil, or avocado oil. (Beware of linseed oil, which contains high amounts of vit. E, but it oxidizes very quickly and is therefore not suitable to take with you on holiday, for example!)

    We recommend to try using the Aftersun Elixir from Hemptouch. The Elixir’s rich formula refreshes and revitalizes sensitive skin after sunbathing and helps maintain a natural tan. The formula with the best natural ingredients (a precious combination of hemp seed oil, St. John’s wort and lemongrass oil) calms and protects irritated, reddish and sensitive skin that has lost its moisture, flexibility and softness. It balances, feeds and refreshes the skin.

    How To Treat Sunburn

    And if you overdo it with the sunbathing and you're like a lobster by night?

    Cool down the affected areas, your own instincts will surely guide you. You can either use a towel soaked in lukewarm water (not cold, that could irritate you even more), but you will have to change it often, or use a tried and tested good quality white yogurt/quark or cooled strong black tea which contains the polyphenol theaflavin (which helps healing of burnt skin) - really pure black tea, beware e.g. Earl Grey, which contains bergamot oil, which is photo carcinogenic - i.e. these oils can have carcinogenic effects when exposed to sunlight.

    For sunburn you can also try pure aloe vera pulp from a plant - we do not recommend ready-made Aloe Vera gels at all, as they are full of unsuitable ingredients, at least harmful preservatives, which we cannot do without when making the gel. Other than that you can also use chilled hydrolate (flower water, e.g. lavender, chamomile, melissa, mint), 10% panthenol powder mix with hydrolate.



    1. Documents from the Facebook group of a non-profit organization Svet Non Toxic. 



    June 12, 2023