It is running far from smoothly in the sun cream world. If a little unlucky you are using a product which visually appears to be doing its job properly, because you no longer burn, but meanwhile you are suffering damage. This is due to the different types of rays from the sun: UV-A, UV-B and infrared. What do those rays actually do? Or rather more appropriately: what do sun creams do to counteract them?

From B to A
Less than 10 years ago everyone was concerned about UV-B. That is the ray which turns your skin red. Consequently, sun creams had to provide protection against UV-B to stop the skin from burning, which they did, solving that problem. In the meantime we have learned more: UV-A rays are, if anything, more dangerous. UV-A rays do not burn you, so they do not carry a warning, however these rays actually penetrate deeper and more dangerously into the skin.

Separate UV-A logo
Sun creams, therefore, not only need to protect you against UV-B rays, but also UV-A rays. But how can you check? As the SPF on a product only provides the protection against UV-B. Well, in Europe they have come up with something for that. If a product also provides protection against UV-A rays, it will usually display a special logo. However, this separate reference sometimes causes confusion. I frequently receive enquiries as to whether our Suncare products actually protect against UV-B as well. After all, only UV-A is mentioned on the bottle. As a result of this both UV-A and UV-B are listed on our new packaging.

Use sun products made in Europe
The regulations in respect of this are much worse in the U.S. Different legislation and testing procedures mean they have far less filters than in Europe. Regulations around UV-A are also lacking. It is therefore better to buy your sun products in Europe. I know that many American Dermatologists also do that. And while I’m on the subject: be wary of the so-called all day formulas. Some of these products provide very poor protection against UV-A. And this is impossible for you to check; since UV-A doesn’t burn you!

Damage from infrared rays
After all the knowledge gained into the damaging effects from UV-A on the skin, more recent research has been conducted into the infrared part of sunlight. It has become apparent that the part of these invisible rays which gives heat, is also damaging to the skin. The longer wavelengths, in particular, cause more free radicals in the skin and break down collagen.

Choose antioxidants
Is nothing safe anymore? And how can we equip the skin against this newly discovered source of damage? The answer is actually quite simple: with a cocktail of antioxidants. Randomly controlled trials have found that only sun creams containing antioxidants (such as niacinamide, caffeine, green tea, vitamin C, vitamin E, ubiquinone and grape seed extract) can significantly protect the skin against infrared rays.

Check the ingredients list
There are all sorts of cosmetic brands which clearly display on their packaging: UVA-UVB-IR. This means that the sun cream also contains antioxidants alongside filters. And that can’t be a bad thing. If this information is not displayed on packaging it doesn’t mean that it won’t protect against infrared rays. If you want to be certain then check the ingredients list for antioxidants. You can also choose to use a fine face cream full of antioxidants, which you can apply under your sun cream.

Must in skincare
Antioxidants have always been a must for me in skincare products, and all this new found knowledge only reinforces this further.



(Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)

You can also read:
– Help with choosing your sun cream
– Vitamin D and the sun
How do antioxidants work in a cream?
Apply your sun cream before or after your moisturiser?