In order to choose the sunscreen cream properly, we need to know our skin phototype, and also to know what the symbols on the packaging of sun products mean.
What is a skin phototype? How to determine it?
A skin phototype depends on the amount of melanin, i.e. a pigment protecting from sun radiation, in the skin. Unfortunately, melanin itself is not enough to protect skin from strong sunlight.
T. B. Fitzpatrick determined as many as 6 skin phototypes. He created this classification based on the observation of the reactions of the skin exposed to sunlight at high noon. The sunbathing lasted for 30 minutes and for the examined skin it was the first sunbathing in a given year.
- PHOTOTYPE I: skin burns extremely easily. If your skin is porcelain white, you have blond or red hair, freckles and fair eyes, you can have problems with sunbathing. Without a strong sunscreen (SPF 50+) your skin will redden quickly and unpleasantly.
- PHOTOTYPE II: the typical features are pale skin, blond hair and blue or green eyes, freckles. This skin tans poorly, although the risk of burns is lower than in the case of phototype I. A sunscreen with at least SPF 30+ is necessary.
- PHOTOTYPE III: initially skin becomes slightly red and then tans brown. This phototype is common in women with dark hair, blue or green eyes and fair skin. A cream with SPF 25+ or 20+ should be sufficient for moderate sun exposure.
- PHOTOTYPE IV: light brown skin tone, skin burns rarely and tans easily. A cosmetic with SPF 15+ is enough for the first days of sunbathing.
- PHOTOTYPES V and VI: brown and dark brown or black skin. It occurs in people with naturally dark skin, and they hardly ever experience sunburns.
What types of sunscreens can we find?
One of the symbols we meet on the packaging of sunscreen products is SPF (Sun Protection Factor) – an indicator defining the degree of protection against UVB radiation ranging from 2 to 50.
How is SPF calculated? We must take into account the amount of UVB radiation which causes sunburn in a person using a given sunscreen product and then compare it with the amount of UVB radiation which causes the same sunburn in the same person without using any sunscreen.
Example: SPF 30 means that for the person using Soraya Sun Care Waterproof Sun Balm SPF 30 the time of safe sunbathing will be 30 times longer. If without any cosmetic your skin becomes red when exposed to sunlight for 15 minutes, the cosmetic will prolong the time of safe staying in moderate sunlight to approx. 7.5 hours – however, one must remember to use sunscreen products properly according to the instructions on packaging.
SPF takes into account only the UVB radiation.
What about the protection from UVA radiation?
On the packaging of sunscreen creams and balms you can meet the PPD marking (Persistent Pigment Darkening). The degree of UVA protection does not have to be stated on packaging, but according to the recommendations of the European Commission the UVA protection should be at least 1/3 of the labelled UVB protection.
Example: We use Soraya Sun Care Waterproof Sun Balm SPF 20 with PPD 18. The second mark means that the dosage of the UVA radiation received by our skin has been reduced 18 times.
Always remember to choose the protection adequate to your skin phototype. The solar radiation reaches us even when the sky is clouded; therefore in the summer you should always carry your sunscreen cream with you.