Here comes the sun…
…but is it alright?
Let’s face facts: 90% of skin ageing is caused by the sun. There’s no disputing it. Sun exposure brings about changes in your skin’s texture, making it everything you don’t want it to be. Dry, flaky, blotchy, inflamed, wrinkled – you name it. Worse, sun exposure is the number one cause of skin cancer.
Sunscreen is a powerful, essential tool against sun damage but unfortunately, it lasts only for about 40-80 minutes. At times, it escapes your skin along with perspiration or an accidental face wash. (Oops!) And unless you apply sunscreen every hour, which is virtually impossible, you’re exposing your skin to UV radiation that damages the DNA in skin cells. Once this damage builds up over time, the skin cells start multiplying at a frightening pace causing skin cancer.
We can’t state this enough: sunscreen is vital, bit it simply isn’t enough. Your skin needs infinitely more care than you normally show it.
You, We and UV
We’ve already established that the sun and your skin are no besties. But you can count on us to fight your nemesis.
But, hold up! How exactly are UV rays damaging your body’s largest organ? Let’s get to know these dangerous beams of light a little better.
Types of UV Rays
95% of the UV rays that reach the earth are UVA rays. They are the longest of all three UV rays, and penetrate deep into the skin. When they do, they destroy the connective tissues, making your skin appear wrinkly and leathery. UVA rays are also hugely responsible for skin cancer.
These rays are a little longer than UVC rays in wavelength. They penetrate the skin’s outer layer to cause sunburn. Prolonged exposure leads to lines, spots and wrinkles. UVB rays have also been linked with genetic mutation that causes skin cancer.
These UV rays have the shortest wavelength. They also are incredibly high on energy levels, and are capable of causing some serious damage to your skin. Luckily, they get absorbed by the ozone layer and we’re spared the harm. (Phew!)
The minute your skin senses that you’re exposing yourself to the sun’s UV radiation, it leaps into defence mode. It ramps up melanin production. What you get, as a result, is a dark layer over your skin. While this magical pigment – melanin – acts as a natural sunscreen, there is strong evidence that supports a correlation of tan with an increased incidence of skin cancer if it is not taken care of in a proper manner.
No one can turn back the clock and reverse ageing. Outside of fantasy fiction and Sci-Fi, there is no object or potion that can take us back in time. But premature ageing can be controlled with proper after sun skincare. Dark spots, lines, wrinkles – these are all signs of premature ageing or photoaging. Brought on the UV rays of the sun, photoaging results from damage to the deepest layers of the and changes in its cellular DNA. UV rays also break down the elastin and collagen fibre present in the middle layers of your skin, leaving it with a yellow, leathery, uneven texture.
The sun’s diet is rich. It feeds on your skin’s fatty acids, essentials oils and moisture, causing the outermost layer of the skin to thicken and appear dry, parched, rough and flaky at times.
When your skin increases melanin production in response to sun exposure, you’re left with a tan. But sometimes, there is an uneven increase in melanin production. You can tell when this has occurred by the appearance of patchy colouring, pigmentation and sun spots. In some cases, the sun has been observed to cause the stretching of small blood vessels which results in angry red blotches. (Ouch!)
Your skin and UV rays share a sibling relationship sometimes. It’s in the nature of UV rays to irritate your skin when you’re least expecting it. They trigger immune system reactions, resulting in red, itchy and inflamed patches all over your skin. Fortunately, we heard about these squabbles and are here to settle the fight.
Your hair’s outer layer contains lipids which protect your hair from the elements. But in comes the sun causing trouble. Its UV rays break down this protective outer layer, destroying your hair’s ability to retain moisture. And that’s how you end up with dry, frizzy hair.
Did you know your hair contains proteins? Well, they do! These proteins give your hair structure and elasticity, without which your hair would appear weak, dull and thin. What sun exposure does is break down these proteins. No proteins, no structure. And thus begin the dark ages of hair thinning.
Split ends are the absolute worst. If you thought they popped up out of nowhere, think again. The sun’s rays damage the cuticle which is your hair’s outer cover. In many cases, this damage causes the ends of the hair to break or split. Hair with such split ends tend to shed much more easily as well.