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SKIN FOCUS: Sun Protection

December 1, 2009

It’s the time of the year again! Before some of you jet off to a holiday destination abroad or hit the beach to add that bronze touch to your skin, Skin Focus spills the beans on our sunny friend and provides some advice to keep the relationship healthy while you’re enjoying that long-awaited vacation.

The Sun

The sun is an important source of Vitamin D for the body, helping the absorption of calcium for stronger and healthier bones. However, it does not require much exposure in the sun for most people to obtain the recommended amount of Vitamin D they need. Prolonged, unprotected sun exposure can result in skin damage and even skin cancer.

Two types of UV rays

Ultraviolet rays are rays emitted by the sun that interact with the skin.
They can be divided into two groups, A and B.

  • UVB rays
    UVB (B like burn) rays account for 5% of the UV rays reaching the earth. They are filtered by windows. They penetrate into the epidermis or superficial layer of the skin. In the short term, they cause sunburn, our body’s in-built warning system. In the medium term, they result in a tan or darker colour of the skin. Finally, in the long run, UVBs can lead to certain skin cancers.
  • UVA rays
    UVA (A like age and allergy) rays account for the remaining 95% reaching the earth’s surface and they are only partially filtered by windows. They penetrate more deeply into the skin, reaching into the dermis. UVAs are more dangerous than UVBs because, unlike the sunburn caused by UVBs, our body does not have a natural warning system against them. When the damage they cause becomes visible, it is already too late. In the short run, signs of premature ageing such as wrinkles and dark spots start to appear on the face, making one look older than the actual age. The invisible damage can, in the long term, lead to accelerated skin ageing and the development of tumours such as melanoma, the most serious of skin cancers.

The body’s natural protection mechanism

The sun’s UV rays react with a chemical called melanin that is naturally occuring in most of our skin. Also known as pigment, melanin is the substance which determines the colour of our skin, hair and eyes. Melanin is found in different concentrations and colours in our bodies, henceforth explaining the different skin colours in humans. People who have darker skin contain higher levels of melanin inside their bodies. Similarly, fair people have a lower amount of melanin.

Melanin is the body’s first defense against the sun because it absorbs the harmful UV rays before they do serious damage to the skin. The lighter a person’s natural skin color, the less melanin the body has to absorb UV rays and protect itself. The darker a person’s natural skin color, the more melanin it has to protect itself. Generally, those with darker skin tones are able to tolerate exposure to the sun for a longer time without getting sunburnt; a fair person, on the other hand, may get sunburnt after spending only a few minutes under the midday sun. However, both dark- and light-skinned beings need protection from UV rays because any tanning or burning causes substantial skin damage in the long run.

Protecting your skin

Each of us has a genetically-defined, different skin phototype which conditions the risk of sunburn, photoageing and skin cancer caused by exposure to the sun. Other environmental factors such as geographic location, season, time of the day, climate, altitude, and reflection of the sun’s rays (from sand, water, or snow) also play a major role.

Here are some tips to protect your skin from the sun:

  • Use sunscreen with a high UVB and UVA protection.
  • Apply your product in the shade 20 minutes before going out into the sun, especially if you’re pale-skinned and hypersensitive.
  • Reapply the cream every two hours and after swimming.
  • Minimize exposure to the sun; avoid exposure between midday and 4 pm when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Protect your skin even when it’s cloudy or when the sun is setting.
  • Even when you have a tan, ensure that your skin is sufficiently protected.
  • Protect your lips.

La Roche-Posay’s recommendations

La Roche-Posay’s range of suncare products offers the highest protection against the sun in the market for both adults and children.

  • ANTHELIOS W 30 SPF Gel is recommended for outdoor sports enthusiasts because of its high water resistance.
  • ANTHELIOS XL 50+ SPF Extreme Fluid comes in a lightweight texture which is easily absorbed into the skin without leaving a white cast.
  • UVIDEA XL 50+ SPF Daily UV Protection (Natural/Porcelain) provides a smooth and moisturizing finish with no oily effect, suitable as a makeup base.



Most of us are usually concerned about sun burning as it is the more obvious effect of sun exposure. Now that you are aware of the more harmful effects of UVA rays, protect yourself while enjoying the company of the sun.

Is the sun friend or foe? You decide.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. wynne permalink
    December 10, 2009 12:55 pm

    Hi there,

    I would like to enquire on the difference between various LRP sunblocks.

    What does the Anthelios W, XL stands for?
    What type of skin would you recommend for La Roche Posay Anthelios SPF 40 Lait?

    I have combination skin, and started using SPF30 Anthelios W recently.
    However, I realize that my t-zone becomes shinier less than halfway through the day, which is not the usual case for me.

    Could it be that I am wearing the wrong sunblock?

    Thanks for answering my queries in advance!

    • December 10, 2009 3:10 pm

      Hi Wynne,

      Anthelios W is recommended for sports activities because it’s highly water resistant, hence W refers to its water resistance. Anthelios XL refers to La Roche-Posay’s patented active ingredient Mexoryl XL, the first photostable UVA filter, which is present in all of our Anthelios sunscreens.

      We do not currently carry Anthelios SPF 40 Lait but it’s a face and body sunscreen suitable for all skin types.

      Although Anthelios W is meant for face and body application, we usually recommend customers to use a sunscreen designed specifically for the face on the face. You may want to try Anthelios AC 30 SPF Extreme Fluid or Anthelios XL 50 SPF Extreme Fluid which are sunscreens for the face. These two products are recommended for people with combination or oily skin because of of its light and non-oily texture; when applied, it is easily absorbed into the skin. You can save Anthelios W for use when you’re engaging in sports activities.


  2. Ren permalink
    December 10, 2009 7:43 pm

    Hi there, can Anthelios AC 30 SPF be used for the whole body or just the face only? What is the product u recommend for the whole body sunscreen protection that is not oily? Thanks.

    • December 11, 2009 10:25 am

      Hi Ren,

      Anthelios AC 30 SPF is a face sunscreen. Of course, if you like to use it on the body, it’s possible but that’d be costly to use on a frequent basis. I’d suggest you opt for a body sunscreen which comes in a bigger bottle.


  3. karen permalink
    December 11, 2009 12:13 pm

    may i know what is the difference between the Anthelios SPF 50 Extreme Fluid and UVIDEA XL 50+ SPF Daily UV Protection . which one is better for dehydrated and combination/oily skin?

    • December 11, 2009 1:35 pm

      Hi Karen,

      Anthelios XL 50+ SPF Extreme Fluid comes in a fluid form, easily absorbed into the skin, hence is suitable for people with combination/oily skin. Uvidea XL 50+ SPF Daily UV Protection is in cream form and may be a little oily for people with combination/oily skin. While both products offer equivalent UVB protection of SPF 50+, Anthelios provides a higher UVA protection (higher PPD), hence it is recommended for people who are frequently exposed to the sun during the day. Anthelios range is also more water resistant than the Uvidea range and is highly recommended for people who engage in outdoor activities. An almost similar product to Anthelios XL 50+ SPF Extreme Fluid is Uvidea XL 50+ SPF Extreme Fluid because of the same texture. If you are usually studying/working indoors, Uvidea will be a good choice.


  4. Yings permalink
    February 18, 2010 1:07 am

    Hi there, do I need to use a makeup remover to clean off the Anthelios AC SPF30? Or will a normal facial wash, like the Toleriane Gel be sufficient? Thanks!

    • February 23, 2010 6:14 pm

      Dear Yings,

      It is not necessary to use any makeup remover to clean off Anthelios AC SPF30. Any facial wash would work. However, if you apply makeup on top of your sunscreen, it is fine to remove the sunscreen with makeup remover as well. So it very much depends on your habit.


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