María José Cachafeiro Jardón
Bachelor of Pharmacy and owner of the Farmacia Cachafeiro in the Asturian valley of Turón. Founder, co-author and in charge of the social networks of La Botica de Teté.
We are becomingly increasingly more aware of the importance of protecting our skin properly from the sun, mainly in summer, which is when solar radiation affects us more directly, and not just on the beach or at the swimming pool, but in all our everyday activities. The best thing is to protect your skin all year round, but we've still got a long way to go before we get to that point.
At pharmacies we get a lot of questions about sun protection products, especially for babies, children and people with sensitive and reactive skin. This is normal because these are the most delicate skin types and they need "extra" care.
The products we use to protect ourselves from the sun, work by using active ingredients called solar filters. There are three types of solar filters: physical, chemical and biological.
- Chemical filters contain substances that when applied to the skin absorb the energy from solar radiation and turn it into heat.
- Physical filters contain mineral compounds that reflect and disperse solar radiation.
- Biological filters are made of antioxidants that protect us from oxidative stress caused by solar radiation and reduce cell damage.
When I am asked to recommend a sun protection product for sensitive and hyperreactive skin, my advice is always to choose products with physical filters, that are perfume and paraben free. Why? For the following reasons:
- The active ingredients most commonly used as physical filters - zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, stay on the skin without being absorbed and do not react with the skin, which is why they don't cause any skin irritation.
- Physical filters start working as soon as they are applied, biological filters need between 20 and 30 minutes to start protecting the skin. The speed of the effect is a plus point to ensure that this type of skin is always protected.
- Although the cosmetic appearance of protectors with physical filters isn't quite as good, it has improved a lot in the last few years, and it doesn't make you look like a ghost any more. It may make turn your skin a slightly whitened colour, but it is also useful to show the areas where you have forgotten to apply it and also indicates when it needs reapplying. So, in the end this is actually an advantage.
- Perfumes can be potentially allergenic, so it is a good idea to avoid them for this type of skin.
- Parabens are preservatives that are very commonly used in cosmetics. Their use is controversial, especially if they are used excessively and on delicate skin. As sun screen products should be applied several times a day and to the whole body, this implies abundant use, so it is best to choose a paraben free product.
Additionally, it is ideal if the protection product you have chosen also includes biological filters that help to increase the level of protection and that contain substances that moisturise and care for the skin.
If you have sensitive skin, get advice from your pharmacist, in terms of sun protection products.