How do I take care of my skin and the planet this summer?

Being in the sun is one of the most widespread daily activities in the world. It is not surprising that it has also become the obsession of many photographers who find in these moments of relaxation, great models to photograph on beaches and pools around the world from an unusual perspective. Gray Malin, for example, in his book "Beaches" collects more than 300 photographs of these beaches photographed around the world. And if there is one thing we are sure of, it is that all the people who appear in them are wearing a special make-up: their sunscreen, that which we all need, regardless of our origin or culture, to be able to do it without worries.

Sunlight exerts a magnetism on us humans. It is essential for many living beings, and some have even worshipped it. The Sun and its light help maintain our sleep patterns so that we can stay awake during the day and sleep soundly at night. The body produces vitamin D when we are exposed to the sun, a vitamin that is otherwise very hard to find in our food. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for the normal development of our body, because after being stored in our fatty tissue, it helps the body to assimilate calcium.

Sunlight reaches the Earth as a mixture of visible and invisible rays or waves. The long rays are generally harmless to people, but the short rays, such as ultraviolet light, can cause some problems. Exposure to the sun's radiation without proper protection can cause immediate and visible damage, such as sunburn, but also long-term damage that can lead to alterations in the DNA structure of cells, which can affect the growth and appearance of the skin.

One of the most important things this summer is therefore the choice of sun protection you make. Normally, this decision is made based on the type of skin we have, but have you ever thought that this choice can also affect the natural environment in which you use it?

According to a study carried out by the CSIC on three beaches in Mallorca, four of the most common components in sunscreen formulations are responsible for alterations in the growth of marine phytoplankton, even killing it. Phytoplankton (microscopic algae floating in the sea) is the base of the marine food chain and therefore, by altering it, we also alter the life of the major dependent species.

In order to buy the sunscreen that not only protects us but also cares for the environment, it is important to take into account the circumstances in which we are going to use it, so that we can adapt as best as possible to our needs and those of the planet! To do this, it is important to understand how sunscreens work: absorbing radiation (organic filters) or reflecting it (inorganic or mineral filters). Another thing to keep in mind is that many sunscreens are more easily incorporated into the marine food chain, the soluble and biodegradable ones, so we should reject them. And lastly, avoid using sunscreens that contain these ingredients: Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octocrylene, PABA (Aminobenzoic Acid), Enzacamene, Octisalate, Homosalate and Avobenzone.

And when you're out in the sun, always keep these simple guidelines in mind to take better care of yourself:

  • Drink water frequently, and in small doses, to facilitate its absorption and have a hydrated skin that has a greater natural protection against solar radiation.
  • Avoid exposure to the sun between 12 noon and 4 pm.
  • Avoid bathing with the cream on.
  • Avoid the use of aerosols, as they not only go on our skin but also spread in the air and are more easily diluted in water.
  • Maintain sun protection measures even on cloudy days, as the albedo effect (the reflection of solar radiation when it hits the planet) that occurs due to clouds does not protect us from getting sunburnt.
  • Use physical sun protection factors: certain fabrics, such as polyamide or polyester, are very effective UV protectors (up to SPF 50+). Use a cap, sunglasses, T-shirt... and on the beach, always use an umbrella.
  • Avoid unprotected exposure, however short it may seem.