Humans need sunlight. We need it to produce Vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones and lots of other important body functions. Feeling its warmth on our backs gives us a wonderful glow and generally makes us feel good about the world. However, there is a down side to too much sun. Whether it is incidental or by purposefully encouraging a tan by sun-baking or using a solarium, damage occurs deep in our skin where the new cells are made and this influences the rate at which our skin ages and the overall health of our skin.
Our skin is designed to allow UV light to be absorbed and has a system in place to deal with any extra that penetrates. The problem for us is that, when we have too much, our skin has to work hard to ensure this system is efficient and over time, we wear it down and you begin to show the signs of ageing: pigmentation/brown spots, wrinkles and general loss of tone and texture. What actually happens is that the cells are damaged from oxidative stress; similar to rust in a car exposed over time to sea air and lack of care. Damaged cells have changed DNA and, although there is dermal cell turnover every 21 days (when you are young and healthy), the new cells will also be damaged and with repeated UV exposure there is an increase in cellular death rate. This causes a thinning of the dermis with a corresponding decrease in the quantity of collagen and elastin holding everything together, a corresponding decrease in the water-holding capacity both in and around the cells and a decrease in dermal blood flow. This results in less nutrients and oxygen feeding your skin, which compounds the situation.
So our skin becomes:
- Thinner, at first, and then appears thicker the more sun-damaged we become. This is the leathery look and is attributed to a build-up of the keratin layer of the skin, as the body tries to protect itself from more damage.
- Coarse, dry, loose and saggy as collagen breaks down.
- Pigmented, with uneven tone and darkened areas due to increased amounts of melanin being produced, as the cells try to naturally protect themselves.
- Wrinkly, as the damage causes cell renewal to slow even more than with the natural aging process.
- Lined, with visible capillaries, as the smallest blood vessels become deformed and are more visible from thinning of the skin.
- More likely to develop skin cancers of all varieties!!
Having healthy skin on the inside slows the visible signs of ageing on the outside. If you are concerned about your skin and would prefer to age in a slow, healthy and graceful manner, the first thing to do is avoid the damaging UV’s, especially UVA.
Sun Protection Options:
- Avoid exposure – whatever the season and the weather!
- SLIP, SLOP, SLAP!
- Avoid outside activities during the middle of the day.
- Choose to use sun blocks rather than sun screens where appropriate.
- Physical Sun Blocks act like a barrier to the sun’s rays. They adhere to the skin’s surface and reflect the rays away from the skin, rather than chemically absorbing them; like lots of microscopic mirrors all over your face. They are more water resistant and are less allergenic, less irritating & won’t clog pores. As SPF is determined by a mathematical equation relating to the time taken for a chemical sunscreen to absorb UV light in the skin, Sun Blocks cannot be given an SPF; their equivalent is SPF 30+. Physical Sun Blocks usually contain some or all of these ingredients: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Zirconium Oxide.
- Chemical Sunscreens work by having a chemical reaction with the skin that changes the UV rays into heat, then releases it from the skin. They are often preferred by “active” people who are concerned about sweating or rubbing off their sun protection. It can cause the skin to “heat up”, though and exacerbate existing redness or irritations. Chemical Sunscreens absorb UV light within the skin and carry the chemicals in the bloodstream. They have been found up to 72 hours after application in the Liver. Chemical sunscreens may contain any of these ingredients: PABA, Octyl methoxycinnamate, Oxybenzone, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Benzophenone or Avobenzene.
What else will help?
Always cover-up, eat well, drink plenty of water, don’t smoke and, to improve your skin health, use a safe, nourishing, transdermal (able to penetrate), skin care regime based on topical stabilised Antioxidants, especially Vitamin C and A that are of medical strength!
So, now you realise that one of the most important things regarding anti-aging and general skin health that you can do for your skin is to protect it from sun damage. We realise there are many sun protection options out there…so what are the different types of sun protection and which is appropriate for you? The most important thing is to find an option that you are comfortable to USE EVERYDAY, not just when you feel forced to by the strength of the suns rays.
We have provided a quick rundown on the different sun protection options that we offer, by range, to make your choice with us easier. We aim to provide options that you will feel comfortable to use every morning and throughout the day without clogging your pores, feeling greasy or congesting your skin.