Experts Corner - Sun Care by Dr. Ehlingher-David


Why do we say that sun exposure accelerates skin aging? Could you describe the process?

  • The skin acts as a protective shell for our body, and as such, it is particularly exposed to many external factors related to the environment and the sun's rays. Although 90% of UVB rays are stopped by the epidermis (superficial layer of the skin), only 20% of UVA rays do not penetrate the skin. UVA rays are responsible for photoaging and carcinogenesis. When they manage to penetrate the skin, they cause irreversible damage to our cells and, little by little, it is the cumulative effect of the sun that is responsible for accelerating the skin's aging process.

  • Indeed, by inducing oxidative stress at the cellular level, UV rays reduce the production of collagen fibers, a protein that is essential for the proper functioning of supporting tissues and that gives our skin its elasticity. Over time, repeated and prolonged exposure to the sun attacks the cells' DNA, causing either the death of the cells (accelerated aging), or cellular anomalies that can lead to skin cancer.

  • Visually, there is a real difference between skin that has been exposed to the sun on a daily basis and skin that has not been exposed. This difference is marked by a dryness of the epidermis, the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, the deepening of existing wrinkles, the appearance of brown spots or age spots (due to the hyperproduction of melanocytes), a loss of elasticity because elastic fibers are organized in clumps and a sagging of the skin because collagen fibers are reduced.


What are the benefits of sun exposure on Well Aging?

  • In addition to giving us a healthy glow, the sun's benefits have been scientifically proven for our bone health, our immunity, and our mental well-being. And that's even if we protect ourselves from the sun.

  • The sun is a precious ally. A real morale booster, it stimulates the synthesis of feel-good hormones (endorphins with relaxing effects). UV rays also have notable benefits on certain skin pathologies such as psoriasis and eczema because of their anti-inflammatory effect.

  • Last but not least, UV rays help balance our chronobiology (this is the principle of light therapy), which by regulating sleep cycles and other circadian rhythms of the body contributes to our general well-being.


What are the risks of sun exposure?

Although the sun provides many benefits to our health, poorly controlled and excessive exposure to it can be very dangerous.

  • Skin aging - UV rays accelerate skin aging. You may notice wrinkles and small brown spots appearing prematurely. Protecting your skin will be your best anti-aging ally to preserve your youthful appearance.

  • Sunburns - Exposure without sunscreen can inevitably lead to much dreaded sunburns. A sunburn can be very serious and can even lead to a superficial second degree burn with the formation of blisters. Protect yourself at every exposure!

  • Sun allergies - Sun exposure can induce allergic reactions (called Summer Lucite). These reactions can develop on the chest as well as on any other part of the body. Often first triggered by too much exposure, it can represent again with much lighter exposures as well.

  • Photosensitization - Certain medications such as antibiotics, hormone therapy, anti-inflammatory gels, etc. can amplify the effects of the sun on the skin because of their risk of photosensitization. Before any exposure to the sun, carefully follow your doctor's recommendations and check the instructions for your medication or ask your pharmacist for advice.

  • Acne flare-ups - Acne-prone skin may improve in the sun due to the drying effect of the sun's rays; but beware of the acne rebound effect (more sebum production and thickening of the skin) at the end of summer. Solar protection is crucial to avoid this unpleasant phenomenon.

  • Melasma or pregnancy mask - Pregnant women or women undergoing hormonal treatment may develop, following sun exposure, brown spots located on the face that present a very particular, grayish-brown color with a very irregular appearance, reaching the forehead, either central or lateral, the cheekbones, the upper lip, or the mandibular lines. This is the dreaded "pregnancy mask".

  • Skin cancer - In addition to accelerating skin aging, UV rays increase the risk of skin cancer (melanoma and carcinoma). It is important to distinguish melanoma, whose primary cause is bad sunburns, and to keep in mind that it can take up to 20 years between a sunburn and its manifestation as skin cancer. It is therefore important to avoid sunburns as much as possible, especially from a very young age. Carcinomas are very frequent and the consequence of repeated exposure over many years. It is necessary to be wary of so-called "innocent" exposures (during gardening or outdoor sports activities such as golf) and always, always protect yourself on a daily basis throughout the year.


What about moles and skin cancer prevention?

A mole, whose scientific name is nevus, is an abnormality of the melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin - the pigment that gives the skin its color and tan. Although most moles are and will remain benign, their transformation accounts for 20% of melanoma cases. Regular monitoring of their evolution will therefore be your best ally against any risk of them developing into a skin cancer.

A few simple details that can help you monitor your moles:

  • Loss of symmetry

  • An increase in size (> 5 mm)

  • An irregular or jagged outline

  • Non-uniform color (more than 2 colors)

  • A large number (> 30)

  • Spontaneous bleeding

The best preventive measure to avoid any abnormal evolution of your moles is to apply a sun protection with a maximum protection factor (SPF 50) all over your body, whatever your phototype. An annual consultation with a dermatologist is also recommended.

How important is sun protection on a daily basis? How should it be incorporated into a daily skin care routine? Is there a seasonal adjustment to the routine?

  • Sun protection should be part of your daily routine both in the summer and in the winter. The closer we get to spring and summer, the higher the protection factor should be - during winter SPF 15 to 30 (depending on the phototype, the place where you live and your daily activities), during spring/autumn SPF 30, and at least SPF 30 during summer. You should prefer the daily use of facial care products containing an SPF 15 or 30. In the summer, you can also use sun care products that offer additional anti-aging benefits (Soleil Protect Anti-Brown Spot Unifying Fluid or Soleil Protect Line Smoothing Serum) to simplify your daily routine.

  • If you are going to be exposed to the sun for a long period of time, you will need to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours.

    • For example, if you live in a city and only run your errands at the beginning and end of the day, two applications per day will suffice.

    • A person who travels several times a day by bike with direct sun exposure should apply their sun protection several times a day.

Expert advice on how to choose the right sun care product.

We are all different when it comes to the effects of the sun on our skin. Depending on our phototype (the color of our skin, eyes and hair), our reaction to sun exposure will be different. Generally speaking, the higher the level of melanin in the skin, the less vulnerable the skin is to the sun. Thus, lighter skins are much more sensitive to radiation than darker skins.

That's why it's important to choose a sunscreen that's appropriate for your skin type and has a high enough SPF to protect your skin effectively.

Here are some tips for choosing the best sunscreen


  • In the city, you should opt for a light texture that can be used as a day cream before applying makeup. This texture is also preferred by men because it is less oily.

  • For women who spend a lot of time outdoors and wear makeup, use an anti-spot or antioxidant day cream combined with sunscreen on your makeup several times a day.


  • Maximum protection factor (SPF 50 or 30 depending on your phototype) for the first few exposures, then gradually lower if, and only if, your skin reacts well. (No sunburns or significant skin dehydration)

  • A creamy, moisturizing, and water-resistant texture is a must. Face cream has a better hold on the skin. Body lotion is a good option because it penetrates more easily without forming a greasy film on the skin. Stick formulas are also very convenient because they are easy to carry around and very effective for high-risk areas (naevi, eye contour, lips).


Expert advice on how to apply sun care products (face and body)?

Sunscreen should be applied one area at a time so that you don't neglect even the smallest square inch of your skin. Apply your cream thoroughly to the whole face, starting with 1-Nose and chin, 2-Jaws, 3-Eye and lip contour, 4-Neck and décolleté, without forgetting 5-Neck, ears, and head for men! Remember to protect your hands as well, as they are constantly exposed to the sun and their very thin skin tends to age prematurely.

Here are some precautions you should take:

  • Apply a sun protection suitable for your skin type and with the highest SPF on all exposed areas.

  • Avoid any exposure between 12:00 and 4:00 pm, when the sun is at its zenith, as its rays are the most aggressive during these hours.

  • Gradual exposure - For the first few days of exposure, you should only expose yourself for 30 minutes. Then, as your skin adapts, you can increase your exposure time to prepare your skin and avoid any erythema or burns.

  • Reapply your sun protection every 2 hours or after every swim, even if it is water resistant.

  • Moderate exposure time, especially if you have fair skin. 20 minutes is enough to get a sunburn.
  • Protect yourself all year round - Remember to apply a moisturizer that protects against UVA rays on a daily basis, even on cloudy days, to prevent skin aging. Just because you're in the shade, it doesn't mean you're not being exposed to UV rays.

  • Tips for optimal application - Apply your sun protection 15 minutes before exposure and in sufficient quantity on all parts of your body. Do not forget your ears, neck, and feet, which are often neglected when applying sunscreen.

  • Wear sunglasses and a hat for maximum protection.

  • Rehydrate your skin after any exposure with after-sun skin care products. Do not hesitate to apply this product in thick layers like a mask on the reddest areas to rehydrate your thirsty skin.

Can you use a retinol product during the spring/summer?

How can you incorporate it into your daily skin care routine?

During spring and summer, it is preferable to use Retinol only in the evening on well-cleansed skin and to use a sunscreen in the morning. In autumn and winter, Retinol should be used both in the morning and evening if it is well tolerated by the skin.

What are the advantages of using face sunscreen products containing anti-aging ingredients (Vit C, HA)? Are they compatible with other skin care products? How can they be integrated into a good skin care routine?

By using sun care products that combine other active ingredients such as vitamin C or hyaluronic acid, you can use a sun care product as a real everyday skincare treatment. This is a definite time saver for women, who can lighten their daily routine and at the same time give their skin (through the accumulation of active ingredients) anti-aging and protective benefits. This sun care product can then be applied as a daily skincare product with all the benefits of a day cream.

What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

  • Ultraviolet rays are invisible light coming from the sun. It is their wavelength that differentiates them and will therefore determine their effects on our skin. UVA rays have a wavelength of 400-320 nm, compared to 320-290 nm for UVB rays.

  • Because of their longer wavelength, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the dermis than UVB rays. UVA rays are mainly responsible for tanning and skin aging (spots, wrinkles, etc.) and are the ones that present a carcinogenic risk. UVB rays, on the other hand, penetrate less deeply. They are responsible for sunburns, burns, blisters, etc. You must therefore protect yourself from both!

  • You should know that UV rays penetrate clouds, and are also reflected by water, snow, sand... So, you should pay attention to protect your skin with a sun protection suitable for your phototype, but also take into account the environment in which you are.

  • Don't forget that windows block UVB rays, but not UVAs. This means that you can still get a sunburn even behind glass.

Does the concept of solar capital really exist? What does it mean?

  • We are all born with a solar capital which corresponds to the ability of our skin to fight (and repair) against the harmful effects of the sun. This capital is largely determined by our genetics and our phototype. With each exposure to the sun our capital decreases, until it is exhausted, and this happens even faster if we do not protect our skin adequately. When our solar capital is depleted, we can observe the onset of pigmentary disorders on the exposed areas which indicate saturation: the skin's ability to repair has been exceeded.

  • In order to preserve this precious capital for as long as possible, we must do everything we can to limit our exposure to the sun and protect ourselves from UV rays with quality sun care products.