What you need to know about sun and UV radiation

Is sun harmful to our skin or not? Should we protect ourselves or not? What is the difference between a synthetic and natural SPF? What sun protection is allowed for the coral?

This blog summarizes the latest insights from experts in the skin field. If you don't have the time or energy to read on, remember: we need sun for our health, but don't burn! And make sure that children do not burn. There is a relationship between sunburn at a young age and skin cancer later in life.

Why do we need sun?

For the production of vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 plays an important role in more than 2000 body processes [i] . And helps against depression, cancer, autoimmune diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure. As far as the southernmost tip of Spain, we are short of this important vitamin in the winter. People with dark skin in a country like the Netherlands are completely chronically deficient in vitamin D3. Even during a sunny summer.

For the production of nitrogen dioxide

UV-B rays cause the production of nitrogen dioxide. This substance improves, among other things, your immune system, prevents arteriosclerosis and improves blood circulation in the heart and skin.

The production of both vitamin D and nitrogen dioxide is reduced by the use of sunscreen products.

Less risk of melanoma and cardiovascular disease

The first one in particular sounds quite bizarre. But is one of the conclusions of a long-term scientific study by the Department of Epidemiology and Cancer at a Swedish university regarding sunbathing [ii] . By enjoying the sun unprotected as much as possible, without burning :

  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease dramatically
  • Significantly reduces the risk of melanoma - the most deadly form of skin cancer

Professor of Dermatology, Carla Bruijnzeel says about melanoma [iii]: "We don't know what the relationship is with sunlight. They can be on the buttock or in the oral cavity. You see them in people who spend a lot of time indoors and twice a year on go on vacation.”

What are the disadvantages of (too much) sun?

Risk of combustion

Burning causes DNA damage. Which can manifest itself in skin cancer or another form of cancer. So enjoy the sun, but avoid sunburn.

Wrinkle formation

According to a 2003 World Health Organization report [iv] , 80-90 percent of facial wrinkles are caused by UV rays. Chronic exposure to the sun, especially UV-A radiation, can reduce the elasticity of the skin.

Pigment spots

Usually caused by DNA damage that you have suffered in the past. Pigmentation tips to reduce this - limit sugar consumption (including refined carbohydrates, chips, fruit juices from packaging, etc.). Perfumes, dyes and certain plant extracts/oils can also cause pigmentation!

Prepare your skin for the sun

You may have already noticed it yourself, because of the sunny spring we've had. UVB radiation causes thickening of the skin, making it better protected against sunburn. And protects deeper skin layers. Thickening of the skin offers more protection than a tan. Let your skin slowly get used to the sun in the spring, so that it can thicken. Depending on your skin type, it takes a few days to a few weeks for your skin to thicken. NB: the skin of people with skin type I never thickens enough. It should always be protected from the sun.

Nutrition or supplementation

We can also build protection from within through nutrition. Think of carotene-rich vegetables and fruit (yellow, orange, red), green tea and astaxanthin (all rich in antioxidants).

The combination SkinProtect and SkinBalance from LaVieSage is packed with natural sun protection. And makes your skin thicker so that it is better protected against the sun's rays. With SkinProtect you build up a protective SPF 7 from the inside out! SkinProtect also reduces the risk of sun allergies. I take SkinProtect all year round as a multivitamin. If you only want to use SkinProtect for the more sunny months, start taking it in April!


Sunscreens are available with synthetic or natural filters. Synthetic filters penetrate your skin and thus offer protection. Many synthetic filters only provide protection against either UVA or UVB. Natural filters usually protect against both UVA and UVB, through a layer on the skin that reflects UV radiation.

Table 1 synthetic sun filters & protection against UVA and/or UVB

Disadvantages of synthetic filters

Synthetic filters are generally questionable in terms of their effect on your health and are a burden on the environment. In Aruba and Hawaii, among others, sun screens with harmful sun filters oxybenzone and octinxate are prohibited.

Other synthetic UV filters don't seem very good for the coral either: Avobenzone, octocrylene, ecamsule and also oxybenzone have been shown to be carcinogenic in research. A filter such as homosalate disrupts the hormone system and is broken down by sunlight into harmful by-products. If that's true for humans, the question is how safe they are for marine life...

Professor Carla Bruijnsma says about sunscreen [iii] : " Whatever is important to me: all that sunscreen, how much is absorbed into your body? What is the long-term effect?"

Is a natural filter better?

Natural filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, if not in nano form, do not have this disadvantage. They also protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. However, these have the disadvantage that they can leave a white cast on your skin. But a number of brands have come up with a good solution for this:

Is titanium dioxide harmful to your skin?

The natural filter titanium dioxide is said to cause an oxidation reaction on the skin. Which is not good for your skin. However, this applies to titanium dioxide in nano form. Natural sun protection brands normally do not use nano ingredients. Read more about this in a previous blog .

Do natural oils and fruit & vegetable extracts protect?

In some natural cold pressed! oils and fruit and vegetable juice / extracts are naturally a factor. The plant where the oil, juice or extract comes from must also protect itself against the sun in nature. A 2015 study shows that there are certainly oils and fruit and vegetable juices that offer protection. But not enough to provide sufficient (total) protection. They are interesting ingredients for a sun protection product in combination with, for example, zinc oxide [v]

Lubricate timely and sufficiently

Synthetic filters should be applied about 30 minutes before going out into the sun to protect them. Natural filters protect immediately.

Do you want to be protected with a sunscreen? Lubricate enough. Most people don't lubricate enough. And repeat regularly. At least after you've been in the water or have perspired heavily.

What about that radiation again?

  • UV-A: Causes skin ageing, damage to DNA (photo-aging: including pigment spots, wrinkles). Mnemonic: The A for Aging.
  • UV-B: Causes tanning or burning. Burning's B.
  • SPF: says something about protection against UV-B, not about protection against UV-A
  • Research indicates that the lake protection above factor 30 is small. Factor 30 protects against 97% of the sun's rays. Factor 50 against 98% of the radiation.

Enjoy the sun! But do it safely.