UV-radiation and Its Harmful EffectUltraviolet (international designation - UV) is a part of the solar radiation with a wavelength from 180 to 380 nm. Three types of ultraviolet:
- UVA 315-380 nm,
- UVB 280-315 nm;
- UVC 180-280 nm, which is the most dangerous for all living organisms.
Why is UV-radiation dangerous?Significant doses of ultraviolet not only contributes to sunburn but also destructively affects living organisms. The consequences of excess radiation for a body are horrible. The victims experience sunburns, disruption of the retina and partial loss of vision known as the “snow blindness” among mountaineers and polar explorers. With the height, the intensity of solar radiation effect increases, because the ultraviolet in the mountains is especially harmful to humans. Note that each kilometer upward increases the intensity of radiation by 12%. However, it also depends on the surface, since some surfaces emit much more radiation than others. Let’s figure out which surfaces reflect the most amount of UV-radiation:
- snow and ice - up to 80%;
- light sand - up to 35%;
- water - up to 20%;
- soil - up to 15%.
Skin ProtectionSkin as the most significant organ of our body requires particular attention and protection against rays of the Sun. In the mountains, the atmospheric layer is thinner, and the influence of the UV rays is stronger. Don’t be surprised that you get a suntan faster relative to the seaside area.
How Does Suntan Appear?Suntan is a protective melanin skin pigmentation that develops under the action of sunlight. The brown pigment melanin, contained in the cell, protects its structures from the damaging effect of ultraviolet. With prolonged exposure to the sun, the amount of melanin in the skin increases. However, with intensive and prolonged exposure to sunlight, the amount and protective function of melanin may become insufficient to protect the human body from damage and might turn to skin cancer at worst case. That’s why you must apply sunscreen when hiking.
Which Skin Protection Does Your Skin Type Require?The time spent in the sun without damage to health is different for each person. Dermatologists always give recommendations for sunbathing taking your skin type into account.
6 Skin Types
|Skin type||Skin color||Hair color||Eyes color||Sunscreen factor|
|One||light, sometimes with freckles||red or blonde||blue or green||SPF 50+|
|Two||light skin, sometimes with freckles||light or brown||blue or green||SPF 25-30, but in the beginning SPF 30-50|
|Three||swarthy skin||brown||brown||SPF 15-25|
|Four||olive||brown or black||dark brown or black||SPF 25 or less|
|Five||dark or dark brown||black or dark brown||almost black||SPF 5-10|
|Six||dark, almost black||black||black or dark brown||SPF 5.|
Types of SunscreenThe Sunscreen Cream has chemicals that are absorbed into the skin when applied. That is how it reduces UV radiation. This type of sunscreen consists of the following active components Etisalat, Avobenzone, Homosalate, Oxybenzone. Sunblock includes physical or inorganic origin ingredients that block UVA and UVB radiation, while not absorbing, remaining on the surface of the skin. This type of sunscreen is also called mineral. The main disadvantages of sunblock are the possibility of white stains on clothes and poor absorbency. However, it depends on the brand.
Lips ProtectionEven if your lips do not require special care, it will change in the mountains. Consider cold temperatures and constant activity; there is a significant risk to become obsolete. Believe us; this feeling is not pleasant. Therefore, every morning during hiking moisturize your lips with a balm. Men can use a colorless and odorless balm.
When to Apply Sunscreen?
- Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes in advance before going to a sunny location.
- Always apply sunscreen from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when solar radiation is the most harmful for skin.
- Keep in mind that every part of the body and face, which is going to be exposed to the sun. And the most important - do not forget to apply sunscreen again after intensive hiking or swimming.
- Read the instruction how to apply your particular sunscreen on the package.
A Myth About SunscreenMany hikers are sure that sunscreen absolutely protects your skin so that can say goodbye to sunburn. That’s not true! Sunscreen does not give 100% protection from sunlight, and a particular part of it passes and gets on the skin, causing sunburn. Especially often it happens if you go hiking in the middle of the day without hiding in shadows.
Eyes ProtectionSnow Blindness is an entirely familiar concept for many lovers, such as alpinists, skiers, and even ordinary hikers. It happens when you look at the Sun without sunglasses or through low-quality sunglasses, which is actually the way more dangerous. Glasses are essential when you go hiking. Except for protection against the UV radiation, glasses also protect our eyes from possible mechanical damage caused by dust, pebbles, insects and small particles.
Fake Protection: How to Identify?Only using high-quality optics, which ultimately protects against ultraviolet and excessive light, you can completely save your eyes. Do not mix up the concepts of protection against radiation and sunshine! Unfortunately, many beginner hikers believe that the darker the glasses, the better they protect against UV radiation. It is a big mistake! Even light premium quality glasses can completely protect your eyes against the radiation. However, very dark glasses produced by a precarious manufacturer can only serve as an illusion of protection but be harmful indeed. Doctors warn that it is better to be without sunglasses than wearing low-quality ones. The mark UV400 (UV380) indicates that the glasses can adequately protect against ultraviolet. However, it is not always like that. Nowadays most sunglasses have the quality indication stickers regardless of their real quality. Therefore, never buy sunglass of unknown brands or in unreliable places, such as the market. Beware of fakes! For example, there are a lot of scams of well-known companies in Nepal, which quality is very doubtful. So, if you have no other choice, buy sunglasses with glass lenses, since the glass itself protects against ultraviolet radiation almost entirely.
How to Choose High-Quality Sunglasses For a Hike?
- Consider the Darkening Degree
- Consider the Material of Lenses