Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

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How does sun protection work?

How does sun protection work?

Protective clothing, hats... used in conjunction with other existing methods, sun care products provide a means of passive external photoprotection. But how do they work to block UV rays that can cause skin damage?

Sun Protection: What is it For?

Exposure to the sun can cause sunburns and chronic damage to the skin and cells, including premature aging and skin cancers, even though the atmosphere generally absorbs 100% of UVC, 90% of UVB, and about 5% of UVA rays. This is why prevention programs have been established to motivate people to take appropriate and immediate actions to prevent long-term problems. The use of sunscreens is an integral part of the strategy to reduce the skin's exposure to the sun's UV radiation. If used correctly, it serves to protect the skin from the photodegrading effects of the UVA and UVB wavelengths of the solar spectrum, by reducing the intensity of UV rays that affect the epidermis.

The mechanism of how a sunscreen works.

While in the past they only offered modest protection against UVB and none against UVA, sunscreen products are now formulated to counteract the penetration of UVA and UVB rays before they reach the deep layers of the epidermis and dermis. This property is due to the action of the active ingredients present in sunscreen products: the UV filters which are often of mineral origin (UV reflectors) or chemical (UV absorbers) or a combination of both to provide broad-spectrum protection. Although both filters offer identical levels of protection, they operate in different ways.

  • The inorganic filters , or minerals, in the form of particles ranging from 100 to 300 microns, work mechanically. They function by reflecting and scattering UV rays, forming a protective barrier on the skin's surface, thus preventing their systemic penetration into the skin. However, their tendency to create a whitening effect and to stain clothing makes them undesirable for most consumers, hence the introduction of nanoparticle forms of physical sunscreens to correct this undesirability and improve cosmetic acceptability, by reducing the whitish appearance.

    Example : Zinc Oxide (INCI: Zinc Oxide) and Titanium Dioxide (INCI: Titanium Dioxide).

  • The organic filters, also known as chemical filters, directly absorb various wavelengths of UV rays in the range of UVA and UVB, instead of the skin's constituents. These agents transform the incoming light into energy in the form of generally imperceptible heat or fluorescence through internal conversion mechanisms. Each filter protects within a given range of wavelengths. However, in addition to causing contact allergies, most chemical filters are suspected of being potential endocrine disruptors, carcinogenic, or harmful to the environment.

    Example : Theoxybenzone (INCI: Benzophenone-3), theoctocrylene, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate (INCI: Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate), bemotrizinol (INCI: Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine), theavobenzone (INCI: Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane), ethylhexyl triazone (INCI: Ethylhexyl Triazone), disodium phenyl dibenzimidazole tetrasulfonate (INCI: Disodium Phenyl Dibenzimidazole Tetrasulfonate), thehomosalate, the 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, the octyl methoxycinnamate (INCI: Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate), ensulizole (INCI: Phenylbenzimidazole Sulfonic Acid) etc.

In the European Union, all sunscreens are regulated according to Annex VI of Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and Council of November 30, 2009. 28 sunscreens are approved by European regulations, which includes 26 chemical filters and 2 physical filters (34 in Australia and 17 in the United States).


  • LIM H. W. & al. Photoprotection. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (2005).

  • O’DONOGHUE M. N. & al. Update on photoprotection. Dermatologic Therapy (2007).

  • MEUNIER L. Photoprotection (interne et externe). Dermatologie (2008).

  • RATNER D. & al. Sunscreens: an overview and update. American Academy of Dermatology (2011).


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