Are there foods, supplements, which taken by mouth can really help us strengthen and protect the skin before exposing ourselves to the sun (they say they eat lots of carrots for example), or are they “urban legends”?

The sun is good, the sun is bad. Is it good but should it be taken intelligently, or should it be avoided at all costs? And what are the health risks that can be faced when the search for a tan at all costs leads us to spend whole days, even during the hottest hours, in the sun?

What are the main risks to which you expose yourself when you do not take the necessary precautions, when you overdo it with exposure to the sun, perhaps without using adequate sunscreens?

Sunbathing is a very pleasant thing, but we must all learn to do it correctly. Exposure to the sun undeniably involves “beneficial effects” for humans: on mood, on the synthesis of vitamin D, on lowering blood pressure but, unfortunately, for the skin it implies a series of “negative effects”.
 
In fact ultraviolet (UV) rays interfere with the skin promoting biological events that result in a series of damage, both acute (erythema and pigmentation) and chronic. The severity of the actinic or solar damage depends on the duration and intensity of the exposure, on the individual phototype and on the geographical latitude. In recent years, in fact, it has been established, in an incontrovertible way, the occurrence of a series of negative effects, when our skin is exposed to UV rays without protection and that one of the most important damage is represented by the substantial decrease in the immune response.

The main manifestations are represented by alterations of the cutaneous texture with an accentuation of expression wrinkles and wide furrows, alterations of the consistency with cutaneous thickening, xerosis and elastosis, pigmentation modifications (solar freckles, discoloration), modifications of the cutaneous vasculature (telangiectasias) ), actinic keratoses, tumor lesions, such as epitheliomas and melanomas, the latter constitute the final stage of a broad evolutionary spectrum that characterizes the process of skin photo-aging.

It is estimated that there are at least 100,000 new cases of cutaneous melanoma worldwide each year (around 15% more than in the previous decade). The relationship between sun and melanoma is very complex: the risk factor is intense and intermittent solar exposure, that of the weekend, for example, which by removing the skin from the time to implement all its physiological mechanisms of photoprotection, exposes us to a greater risk.

Limiting sun exposure and the use of tanning lamps and constantly using high-protection, broad-spectrum sunscreens reduces and somehow slows down the inexorable progression of photo-induced skin aging process.

Are there any general ‘guidelines’ that can be kept in mind for a tan that is not only beautiful but also healthy?

Protection based on the “skin type” is fundamental: some types of skin, in fact, darker and more resistant, are able to better withstand the attacks of solar radiation, while others are clearer and more reactive, they must avoid the risk of sun exposure as much as possible. Once you have identified your phototype, you can start looking for the right sun protection product. With regard to topical products, it is better to choose one that meets precise quality criteria:

  • use photostable chemical filters
  • use chemical and physical filters in combination
  • clearly inform the consumer about the degree of UVB and UVA protection
  • exclude among the excipients substances such as perfumes and preservatives which may have phototoxic effects
  • contain antioxidant active ingredients (folic acid) and moisturizers (hyaluronic acid)
  • prefer single-dose products for delicate areas such as the face
  • guarantee a good resistance to water and sweat
  • can be applied evenly on the epidermis (better creams, emulsions and avoid oils).

Are the sun’s damages on the skin reversible, or is the damaged one now destined to remain so?

Unfortunately, the skin that has suffered skin burns in the past often has irreversible damage.

In particular, skin burns that occur during childhood are extremely dangerous for the onset of skin cancers in later adulthood.

Are there foods, supplements, which taken by mouth can really help us strengthen and protect the skin before exposing ourselves to the sun (they say they eat lots of carrots for example), or are they “urban legends”?

Starting at least a month before the exposure a “spring diet” based on seasonal fruits and vegetables that contain anti-oxidants is very useful to combat sun damage. The fruit goes all right with preference for the more acidulous or colored one ”, red, yellow and orange. It will help to obtain a more amber and lasting color thanks to carotenoids, contained in high percentage in the foods mentioned. The skin contains most of the antioxidants and should be eaten after a thorough rinsing. Juices, centrifuges, smoothies and dried fruit are also good. Also very useful are supplements based on polyphenols such as green tea, resveratrol, lycopene and beta-carotene. They must be taken at least 15 days before being exposed to the sun continuously. The last innovation in the field is Polypodium leucotomos, a fern extract from Central America, which aims to protect cells destroyed by sun exposure. It is able to give protection to our skin immune system altered by the sun: in fact we talk about photoimmunoprotection. It can be taken throughout the summer season without any problem.

We are entering the season of the sun, of the beach. What advice would you give to our readers who are starting to think of the so-called “tintarella” to show when they return from their holidays?

To get a perfect tan there are a few simple rules to follow. Starting to get ready for a tan at least a month before the holidays, performing a peeling or scrub on the skin, will eliminate dead cells and this, in addition to making the skin smoother and smoother and therefore more beautiful, will allow for a homogeneous complexion and limit skin blemishes caused by the sun.

It is important to remember that waxing with wax, both hot and cold, should never be performed too close to sun exposure, as tearing always makes the skin more sensitive and delicate.

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