Sun protection for the face: why daily application is important even in autumn and winter

Sonnenschutz fürs Gesicht: Warum die tägliche Anwendung auch im Herbst und Winter wichtig ist

Today we're getting a little lyrical - appropriate for the time of year: the golden autumn is here and winter is quietly knocking on the door. The days are getting shorter, the sun too often hides behind a thick layer of clouds. But does that mean that the rays of the hot star no longer reach us? Many may think that the sunscreen in the far corner of the bathroom cabinet deserves a winter rest. Far from it. Our skin needs protection - every day we step outside the door. Here, by the way, the focus is on a face protection cream. The explanation is - well logically - the rest of our skin is hidden under clothing.


SPF: A decisive factor

The key to using sunscreen effectively is understanding the acronym "SPF." The term stands for Sun Protection Factor. This value indicates how well a cream protects us from harmful UVB rays. As a reminder, these are the rays that cause sunburn - and age the skin prematurely. In autumn and winter, this applies first and foremost to the face. The individual reaction to sunlight varies depending on the color of the skin and hair; this is called the self-protection time. This refers to the length of time we can spend in the sun without worrying about protection. This ranges from just 10 minutes (fair skin) to about 60 minutes (very dark skin). Here a short insertion: Dear parents, these times do not apply to your children; here only 5 minutes without cream are justifiable.


How do I determine my SPF?

When it comes to determining the specific sun protection factor, we should all first consider how long we will be exposed to the sun. The calculation is then made according to the following formula: The planned exposure in minutes divided by the skin's individual self-protection time gives the required sun protection factor. Example: Assume a woman is a fair type with dark hair. For 300 minutes of carefree sunbathing with an individual self-protection time of 10 minutes, a sun protection factor of at least 30 is required (300 : 10 = 30). Of course, regular reapplication of sunscreen should not be forgotten!


The advice of the Radiation Protection Office

However, the calculation can also be made from the "point of view" of the suncream. For this the following formula is used: Self-protection time of the skin x SPF (or LSF) of the suncream = minutes that the protection lasts. Using SPF 50 as a example, it looks like this: Self-protection time of the skin 20 minutes x SPF 50 = 1,000 minutes. However, the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) advises that the calculated number of minutes should not be used in full. But only 60 percent of the time. Well, even that is a long time. Who normally has to spend 10 hours in the sun?


How much product for how much protection

These were all very "technical" facts. But now let's talk about the use of sunscreen. For effective basic protection, it is recommended to apply sunscreen twice - with a short time interval. The amount is named by experts as follows: Two milligrams of cream per square centimeter should be enough. For an adult, this is roughly equivalent to a coffee mug filled to a height of two centimeters. However, most people apply far too little cream. Unless only the face is protected. Then two to three large blobs spread from the carriages and the T-zone are enough. To maintain the sun protection factor during the stay in the fresh air, the sunscreen is used at regular intervals (about every 2-3 hours). After swimming or heavy sweating, reapplication is important. This is the only way to keep the skin protected from the harmful effects of UVA and UVB radiation.


Avoid the midday sun

Last but not least... we should all heed this recommendation from dermatologists: The midday sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. is off limits. This is the time when radiation is at its highest - and even the best protection cannot prevent every burn. Those who still go outdoors at this time need suitable clothing and a wide-brimmed hat that provides shade for the head and face.