Sunny Side DownIt’s well-known that sun damage is the single biggest cause of premature skin ageing, including wrinkles and sun spots, because it causes large-scale free radical production. This is referred to as photo-ageing. Furthermore, UVA rays damage collagen and elastin, resulting in decreased skin elasticity and increased dryness and wrinkling. There are two types of rays that cause damage, beyond what any beauty treatment can fix. These rays are ultraviolets A and B (hence UVA and UVB), with UVA being most damaging due to their ability to penetrate the deeper skin layers, and UVB rays being responsible for sun burn. Furthermore, UVA rays damage collagen and elastin, resulting in decreased skin elasticity, and increased dryness and wrinkling. Too much of either plays a considerable role in premature ageing of skin, along with skin cancer development.
Fact: Sun beds emit as much as – and in some cases more – UV rays as the sun, with the same skin-damaging results.
Sun ProtectionIn order to protect your skin against the ageing effects of the sun, incorporate sunscreen into your daily skin care routine (even if you aren’t going into the sun) using a broad-spectrum sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, cover up with clothes made of tightly-woven fabric, and wear a wide-brimmed hat. According to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, “Hats with a wide (greater than 7.5 cm) brim are necessary in order to provide reasonable protection factors (greater than 3) around the nose and cheeks.” They should also ideally be of a tightly-woven fabric, in a dark or bright colour, and have a dark underbrim so that reflected light isn’t shining onto your face. Makeup containing sunscreen can be helpful, but it’s not enough. A 2001 study by Dr Zoe Diana Draelos, clinical associate professor at the Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest University, North Carolina found that, “Liquid, cream or powder, and lotion foundations tend to collect in facial lines [wrinkles] within four hours of application, leaving most of the face exposed to the sun's damaging rays.” Swiss chemist, Franz Geiter, was the first to propose the concept of sun protection factor in 1962, and is thought to have been the first official sunscreen manufacturer.
Fact: According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) UVI Guide, up to 90% of UV rays pass through clouds, 15% are reflected from light-coloured beach sand, and 25% from sea foam. UV rays also penetrate water – the HO estimates that at 30 cm below the surface UV is 40% as intense as that on the surface. UV radiation cannot be felt, so a cool, cloudy day doesn’t mean less radiation.