Ambient Sunlight, skin cancer, melanin

and the science behind it

About Ambient Sunlight

Ambient sunlight equals those moments in daylight most of us don’t think about: running an errand, walking to the mailbox, hailing a cab, driving, or even sitting next to a window. It’s for everyone, every day, year-round.

Ambient sunlight is primarily made of UV-A rays, that are equally intense year-round and also penetrate indoors.

uv & Skin Aging

Normal aging process is accompanied by slow and continuous structural, functional and metabolic changes in the skin: loss of moisture and of elasticity due to collagen depletion in the epidermis, wrinkles and other lines, dark spots... Such changes are greatly accelerated when the skin is exposed to solar UV radiation, as well as to blue light whether of natural or artificial sources: photo-aging permanently and deeply alters normal skin structure.

The face, neck, lips, back of the hand, and décolleté area are the most exposed to daylight, year-round, and consequently the most affected by photo-aging.

Unlike UV-B, UV-A are not dependent on time of day or season, they are equally intense year-round and they penetrate deeper in the skin. They also penetrate rather well through clouds and window glass. Studies have shown that over 50% of outside UV-A radiation penetrates into buildings through glass (vs less than 10% for UV-B).

Skin needs daily protection against UV-A and Blue Light, more than UV-B: UV-A rays are the #1 cause of accelerated aging such as wrinkling, dryness and pigmentation disruption, and also of melanoma.

About UV's

UV-A rays: sometimes called “aging” rays, UV-A can penetrate clouds and glass, and are present during all daylight hours with equal intensity, all year long. UV-A rays are the most damaging to skin at the deepest levels and a main cause of irreversible damage, starting with premature aging, and melanoma. There are approximately 500 times more UV-A rays in sunlight than UVB rays.

UV-B rays: filtered by clouds and gases in our atmosphere, UV-B rays tan and burn the skin (think of the B for “burn”). UV-B rays mostly hit our skin during what we call the sunny season – spring and summer. Essential to our health, UV-Bs are necessary for the body to synthetize Vitamin D from sunlight. However, overexposure to UV-B rays is a major contributor to non melanoma skin cancer; when UV-B cause sunburns, it may contribute to melanoma.

HEVL (High Energy Visible Light) or Blue Light: Blue Light has the shortest wavelength and highest energy. That means it’s both good and bad for skin. Believed to be a mood booster, BL is used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder and regulates circadian rhythms. However, BL can negatively affect the eyes as, unlike UV rays, Blue Light penetrates the retina. Research has discovered that Blue Light is also a growing factor in premature aging because BL can penetrate into deeper layers of the skin, where it impacts collagen and elastin. Alarmingly, while most Blue Light is found in sunlight, our constant, round-the-clock usage of electronics — phones, tablets, and computers — exposes us to the most Blue Light, making it a 24/7 skin and health concern.

UV & Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of all cancers in the U.S. and the number of cases continues to rise. 95% of skin cancers are not deadly and are easy to treat if diagnosed early. Melanoma, on the other hand, is deadly. 

According to scientists, skin cancer, including melanoma, is mostly due to inadequate sun exposure behavior:

  • The excessive sunbathing and sunburns, caused by UV-B is a major factor. This happens at the beach or in the mountain, in situations of prolonged, unprotected exposure. The SPF number on the sunscreen's bottle is a protection indicator against UV-B.
  • Inadequate protection against UV-A, particularly in situations of daily passive exposure aka on regular days, year-round. According to EWG, most sunscreen - especially in the US - offer very poor protection against UV-A, although considered as a major factor of melanoma.
  • Although a little bit more controversial, the lack of moderate, regular exposure to sunlight is considered by some to be a factor of development skin cancer, because of the weakening of our melanin and of our own sun defense system.

INSIGHT: Is sunscreen the solution against skin cancer?

There's absolutely no scientific evidence that traditional sunscreen decrease the risks of skin cancer. Several studies even show that the highest the sales of sunscreen, the highest the incidences of melanoma. This might be explained by the fact that people misuse sunscreen and overexpose to sunlight, thinking they're protected when they're not. The inadequate UV-A protection levels in sunscreen is also a major factor.

INSIGHT: The rate of new melanoma in the US (map - US cancer Statistics 2016)

Melanin & UV protection

Melanin serves as a physical barrier and protects against the penetration of UV through the epidermis

Melanin is a pigment naturally present in the skin, hair and eyes, which purpose is to protect and repair damage on skin cells created by exposure to UV rays. In the skin, melanin serves as a physical barrier that scatters UV rays, as an absorbent filter that protects against the penetration of UV through the epidermis, and as a repair agent against oxidation in skin cells. In hair, it provides the color, and acts as a protection of proteins such as keratin, keeping the hair soft, strong and healthy.

The activation of melanin under the effect of sunlight is called photo-adaptation: it is the ability of the body to defend itself against the damages caused by UV exposure, by scavenging free radicals and limiting the oxidation of skin cells, and the deterioration of DNA.

INSIGHT: The limitation of sunscreen for everyday protection

In their sunscreen guide, the EWG association talk about sunscreen being just part of a toolbox when it comes to sun protection: "a good sunscreen can play a role in preventing sunburns – a major risk factor for melanoma – provided you use it correctly."

On regular days, the biggest risk is not sunburns coming from a prolonged exposure to UV-B rays: it’s the constant and sporadic exposure to UV-A, that penetrate deeper in the skin and even through glass, and hit us whenever we’re talking a walk outside or sitting behind a window at work.

In addition, many studies including coming from the same EWG, have alerted about the health consequences of the daily absorption of synthetic UV filters in the bloodstream: hormone disruption, infertility, skin allergies and cancer have been directly linked to filters commonly found in susncreen such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate, or zinc oxide.

Read EWG's report “8 Little-Known Facts About Sunscreens” 

INSIGHT: The EXTREME limitation of moisturizer and make up with SPF

According to Mintel, about 50% of Americans use a moisturizer or make up that contains SPF. Although interesting for the sake of multitasking, such products cannot be considered an efficient protection against UV on a daily basis: besides the fact that SPF in general is for UV-B (sunburns on a regular day?) and that it fades away within 1-2 hours after its application, the amount of SPF on the skin is absolutely unsufficient to provide any filtering benefit. 

RESEARCH: The risks and benefits of sun exposure

In a study published in October 2016, scientist David G. Hoela from the University of South Carolina, with Marianne Berwickb, Frank R. de Gruijlc, and Michael F. Holick, are promoting the health benefits of regular and moderate sun exposure, stating that it would not only decrease vitamin D deficiency among Americans but that it would also contribute to decrease the risks of developing melanoma.

Read the full study 

We believe in the natural ability of the body to activate its own defense during sporadic daily exposure to UV radiations, and in natural alternatives to synthetic filters present in current sun protection products. Because cosmetic products for everyday use should be absolutely safe, while efficient.


1. Melanin activation: our biomimetic peptide mimics the action of sunlight on melanin and stimulates the natural sun defense properties of the skin for a natural protection against the damaging effects of ambient UV radiations, while allowing for vitamin D synthesis

2. Additional anti-aging boosters: because the skin cannot cope alone with repeated UV exposure, we’ve added powerful and all natural UV-A, Blue Light and IR filters, anti-oxidants, and star ingredient hyaluronic acid, for full anti-photoaging benefits.