There is nothing better than that feeling of the warm sun on your skin. After all, those sunny days really do brighten our spirits. But, the reality of the effects of the sun on our skin is not quite as cheerful. ‘Photo-aging’ is the term used to describe the damage to the skin caused by sunlight and ultraviolet light.
The last 15 years has seen a major surge in governments and various health regulating institutions promoting maximum sun-protection practices and for good reason.
The damage to the ozone layer this century has removed much of our natural protection against the sun and has left us very vulnerable to its damaging consequences on our health, appearance and overall wellbeing.
Research has also proven time and time again that excessive exposure the suns’ UV rays are the biggest reason why:1. Various skin cancers form
2. Accelerated premature ageing occurs
3. Serious damage to the skin occurs (80% of skin damage is caused by the sun)
THE EFFECTS OF SUN DAMAGE- A CASE IN POINT
Many of you would have come across that infamous picture of sun-damage published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The face of a ‘Truck Driver’ strikingly depicted the reality of what 28 years of sun damage can do to your skin.
The image of the man illustrates both sides of his face; one side that has been subjected to UV exposure while driving many hours a day and the other side that was shielded and relatively unharmed.
The harmful effects of the sun were made clear for all of us to see and ultimately shocked many of us into learning more about what the sun can do to us and how we can take specific steps to avoid its dangers.
HOW DOES THE SUN ACTUALLY DAMAGE YOUR SKIN?
UV rays make up 95% of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. That’s a whole lot of natural energy made by the sun! While you cannot actually see UV rays, you can certainly feel them. In order to clearly understand UV rays, let’s break them down into their two forms:
These rays fluctuate in intensity and frequency depending on the season, ultimately being the strongest in summer. Such rays penetrate and damage only the outermost layers of your skin. UVB rays are responsible for the BURNING that you experience when exposed to the sun. So, when you are overexposed to these rays, the result will be a tan or a form of skin inflammation like sunburn, or worse still, blistering and swelling.
These rays stay relatively stable in their intensity and frequency throughout the year – they are always around! As a rule, they are a little weaker than UVB rays however, their damage comes from their permeability – they can penetrate through glass windows, clouds and clothes, etc. UVA rays are responsible for the AGEING you’re your skin experiences when exposed to the sun as they penetrate the deeper layers of the skin damaging its structural fibres.
In short, the differences between UVA and UVB determine how each one can cause damage to the skin. It’s important to remember though that when over exposed, both UV types cause damage to our cell’s DNA, which can result in forms of skin cancer.
THE SUNTAN MYTH WE NEED TO BREAK
The Western world often symbolizes a suntan the epitome of health, but it is anything but. In fact, a tan represents serious injury to the skin. When the skin is exposed to UVB rays, it goes into self-protection mode by creating a natural shield: our skin increases its melanin production (dark pigments found naturally in the skin).
These melanin cells are made in the top layer of the skin and are designed to protect the deeper layers of the skin from more invasive UV damage. The general rule is the naturally darker your skin is, the more protection it has from the sun. The opposite is true for lighter coloured skin – it has naturally less protection.
So, if you want a bronzed complexion this summer, fake it until you make it and use a bottled version of tan instead. Your skin will thank you in years to come!
Part two of ‘ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SUN DAMAGE’ covers everything you need to know about:✓ The signs of sun damage to the skin
✓ How you can effectively prevent and treat sun damage with skincare
✓ Tips to protect yourself against the effects of the sun
Origani is an Australian luxury organic skincare brand. We proudly formulate and produce cruelty-free, certified organic, vegan skincare and makeup.