Since we were little and running around naked in the garden our mum’s would constantly be lathering us in sunscreen. We have always known that it’s so important to wear sunscreen – but why?
The sun gives plenty of benefits to the human body. Sunlight can lower blood pressure, build the immune system and even cure depression. However, its UV rays can be deadly, causing various skin cancers and initiate premature aging.
UV radiation is invisible sunrays that damage the skin’s cellular DNA. Too much exposure to the sun can cause several changes to your skin. The outer layers of your skin can become blistered and easily grazed or even tear due to sun damage. Skin becomes thicker and looses the ability to retain moisture leading to the inner layers loosing elasticity.
There are two types of UV rays that cause different types of damage to our skin, UVA and UVB.
Ultraviolet A Rays (UVA) give longer wavelengths equaling up to 95% of the sun’s rays that touch the earth. These wavelengths are able to penetrate our skin deeper causing it to age, sag and wrinkle. But that’s not even the worst part! UVA rays are able to hit the earth everyday of the year, and they are able to break through glass and clouds. Most car and office widows are able to block the rays from damaging your skin but some are unable too. However, studies show that UV radiations through windows are unlikely to damage your skin unless you spend a lot of time by the window. If you’re still worried, you can invest in tinted windows that are able to block out radiation.
Ultraviolet B Rays (UVB) are medium wavelengths that affects the skin surface. They burn your skin, making it red and blotchy. The good news is UVB intensity varies on the time of day, location and season. You can monitor the strength of the sun in your region to take the proper precautions using an online UV Index. It is also impossible for it to break through glass so you’re protected inside. However, it can still burn and damage your skin all year round as the earth’s axis is closer to the sun in winter, making it more damaging. UVB can also reflect off surfaces such as snow and ice – making it twice as likely that your skin will burn this time of year.
Constant sun exposure, especially sunburn, can lead to many forms of skin changes, including cancer. From childhood exposure, abnormalities start to develop, as the skin’s immune system is unable to identify and target unhealthy cells, risking your health. Similarly, moles that have constant exposure to the sun are more likely to develop cancer too.
On the topic of moles, these are colour pigments in your skin that are made up of cells called melanocytes. Moles can be present from birth or develop over time, or caused by the sun. You are more likely to develop moles if they are common in your family. They can come in all shapes and sizes but mainly react to hormonal changes. Only 10% of the population has cancerous moles but you should always check your moles for swelling, bleeding, itchiness and changes in colour, shape and size and discuss any abnormalities with your GP. Freckles too are hereditary or developed by the sun, which increases the production of cells called melanin (the pigmentation of the skin). Although these are not harmful, they are more common in those with fairer skin and if you’re particularly prone to developing freckles, will put you at a higher risk of sun damage and skin cancer so avoiding the sun where possible and wearing a high factor SPF to protect your skin is particularly important. As with moles, freckles should be monitored for any changes and any suspected changes discussed with a doctor.
It’s always important to check for any abnormalities or changes to your skin to prevent any further development of damage. Doctors will be able to tell you exactly what areas of your body need to avoid the sun, and help to repair damaged cells.
Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse the damage the sun does to our skin. So it is extremely important to constantly protect ourselves using the right products, and even to protect the damaged cells in our bodies.
Skincare products, such as facial moisturizers, eye creams and serums, provide a cheaper alternative to therapy. There are many ingredients in skincare products that benefit and aid in repairing sun damage:
- Vitamin C reduces the appearance of brown spots and other sun damage by repairing skin’s natural healing response.
- Reservatol is a powerful antioxidant that protects a cell’s DNA and prevents cell damage caused by sunlight.
- DNA Repair Enzymes found in sea plankton or plankton extract is proven to undo DNA damage from UV exposure. Studies show it can reduce UVB radiation damage by 45% and increases UV protection by 300%.
To prevent any/further damage to our skin we need to remember to wear sunscreen everyday. UV radiation is present all year round and changes the structure of our skin by attacking our body’s cells. The skin’s cells are too broken that the damage is irreversible – leaving your skin to deteriorate. Instead, we should wear protective dark, tightly woven clothing, hats to protect our face, ears and scalp, and sunglasses to protect our eyes and the sensitive skin around them. We need to seek shade or stay indoors between 11am and 3pm, when UV light is the strongest, and wear sunscreen. Click here to view our favorite sun care products but remember to find an SPF suitable for your skin type. All skin types need a minimum of 30 and a minimum of 50 for sensitive skin.
Check out Cancer Research’s campaign to prevent sun damage and for more tips. #OwnYourTone