Updated on July 07, 2022 at 6:05 p.m.
UV indices: understanding UVA and UVB
Our sun emits 2 types of ultraviolet rays. UVA which are the main responsible for skin aging because they penetrate deep into our skin. They are also the cause of many cancers as well as sun allergies. UVB rays, blocked by our skin barrier, are responsible for the appearance sunburnsbut also because of the tanning of our skin.
Paradoxically, UV rays are also vital for our good health: main suppliers of vitamin D, they contribute to the consolidation of our bone structure. Regular exposure to the sun also helps to produce more melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep. It only takes about fifteen minutes a day, avoiding the hottest hours between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to benefit from it.
Sunscreen and tanning: a winning duo
It’s a received idea that has a hard life, putting on sun protection would prevent you from getting a “good” tan. While it is true that with regular application of Solar cream, the skin takes on color less quickly, it is important to remember that it does not in any way prevent you from tanning. It is there above all to prevent sunburn due to the presence of UVB rays and above all to preserve our sun capital which is reduced over the course of our lives without the possibility of renewing it!
The tan takes two to three days to appear, so there’s no need to spend your first afternoon of vacation in the sun to raise your melanin quickly. At best, it won’t change anything, at worst, it will cause a violent sunburn which will force you to take shelter for at least two days, and which will in no way promote a tan. The right timing for safe tanning : expose yourself very gradually every day, before noon or after 4 p.m., when the radiation is less direct. A little patience then!
Identify your phototype
We are not all equal in the face of the sun, all skin types do not require the same protection. Here are the clues to identify your phototype and adapt your protection.
Phototype I: the skin is very white with freckles, she systematically gets sunburn and does not tan.
Phototype II: skin is fair and sunburns easily, but may tan slightly.
Phototype III: skin is medium with freckles and can get sunburn, she always tans.
Phototype IV: the skin is matte and never sunburns, always tans.
Phototype V: the skin is brown, never sunburns, and acquires a very dark tan.
Phototype VI: the skin is black, and never sunburns.
Read also: How to identify your phototype?
Decoding UV indices to assess risks
UV rays do not have the same intensity depending on the time of day, but also on the environment (water with reverberation, altitude, etc.). The UV index scale, which is calibrated between 0 and 11, makes it possible to assess the spf necessary for his skin.
From 3 to 5: light skin should protect themselves with at least protection with an SPF 30. Dark and dark skin can be satisfied with lower protection. It is best to avoid prolonged exposure during the hottest hours of the day.
From 6 to 7: fair skin goes to the SPF 50 index, matte and dark skin to SPF 30 protection. Avoid exposure during the hours between lunch and snack.
From 8 to 10: whatever the skin type, avoid the sun, protect yourself with SPF 50 protection, don’t go out without a hat.
Clue 11: it can be found in the mountains at high altitude or in the tropics sector. In this case, no bikini or little dress with straps, we wear light or colored clothes that cover the legs and arms. We protect ourselves with a hat and spread a thick layer of sunscreen on our faces, like surfers, so as not to burn.
Choose a tailor-made UV index
To define the UV index of your sunscreen, you need to do a little math!
After finding out about the UV map of the weather site France, this index is multiplied by 4 to obtain the average index to be used with vulnerable skin (phototypes 1, 2 and 3); by 3 to know which one to adopt with a solid skin (phototypes 4, 5 and 6). For example, with a UV index of 8, common in France in summer, we choose an index of 25-30, or 50 if your skin is frankly sensitive or you fear wrinkles.