The sun: our friend, our enemy…
Sun is essential for life on Earth. It is at the origin of vitamin D synthesis and plays an active role in improving our morale. Moreover, its light gives rhythm to our lives. Finally, it gives us a tanned complexion, symbol of health for Westerners.
However, sun could be extremely harmful for health (sunburns, allergies, cancers…) and it would be more and more dangerous! Deficient ozone layer, geomagnetic layer less and less thick… Radiations become more and more aggressive and the number of cutaneous melanoma tripled between 1980 and 2005… The hazardousness of solar radiations is omnipresent today. Therefore, you must use very efficient sun protection products during the whole year!
The radiation received is actually the result of 3 different radiations:
Direct radiation which is richer in UVB when its journey is short.
Radiation spread through the sky which depends on cloud types.
Radiation reflected from the ground (85% for snow, 17% for sand, 3% for grass).
Reflected radiation is more aggressive than direct one. So, sun is particularly harmful at sea and in the mountains.
In the mountains, reflected light is at its maximum since reflection on snow and ice reach 85%. Moreover, we should frequently add reflection due to the relief.
This is the reason why, originally, 8882 products were not tested under the monochromatic light of a laboratory solar simulator but in the real conditions of use, at 2300m high, under an unforgiving spring sun, in order to ensure an optimal sun protection.
At altitude zero, sun is now also dangerous especially for people who spend some hours on
water areas (sailing, surfing, kite-surfing, water-skiing…).
Golfers would also have 8,5 times more risks to develop an actinic keratosis.
You must always keep in mind that, unfortunately, sun could transform a
benign lesion in a cancer!
If the sun presents beneficial effects (great morale, healthy appearance), it could nevertheless be harmful in case of extended, repeated and poorly protected exposure.
Therefore, you must adapt your protection to your skin type, to the actual atmospheric conditions but also to the topography of the area.
Advices to keep in mind:
The best solar protection product never protects you completely.
Over-exposure to sun is a serious hazard to health.
Cream must be applied repeatedly to maintain protection.
You must not expose babies, and young children to direct sunlight (even under a parasol, remember that the radiation is partly reflected by the ground).
For older children, it is recommended not to use a protection factor below 15 or 30 depending on the sun intensity.
Always apply sun cream before exposure to sunlight.
Beware of photosensitizing medications, perfumes, and scented towels.
Beta carotene does not protect against ultraviolet radiation.
Finally, it is important to wear appropriate mountain, or sea sun filter glasses. Solar radiations can cause cataract, and macular degeneration. Caution: a tinted glass doesn’t necessarily filter harmful radiation!