The thing is it seems so healthy being out and about in the glorious sunshine. Those with fair skins feel we look better with a golden tan rather than our pasty pale winter white.
But make no mistake about it – if you want younger looking skin you have to avoid a deep tan at all costs. A light golden glow is your limit and even better if you get it out of a bottle.
Sun bathing is healthy to a degree – a very small degree. More and more research is showing that we ignore the benefits of vitamin D at our peril but don’t overdo it. Your body needs about 20 minutes daily unprotected exposure to the sun to make the Vitamin D it needs for optimum health.
More than that and the sun will start to accelerate skin aging and make you look years older than you are.
As far as skin aging is concerned – smoking and tanning are the two worst lifestyle choices you can make and sun damage – or photoaging – is the single most aging thing you can do to your skin.
What is photoaging?
Photoaging is what dermatologists call the process of degradation of the skin due to prolonged exposure to UV radiation over a typical lifetime. The more UV exposure you subject your skin to and the less melanin you have – the worse the damage will be. Having said that – however dark your skin you are still liable to the effects of photoaging.
Exposure to UV light triggers several reactions in the skin that damage its structure and resilience over time.
Even minimal levels of exposure to UV radiation reduces skin collagen which is so vital for healthy and younger looking skin.
We are all aware of the inflammagion and vasodilation (reddening) that we see on our faces and bodies when we have “overdone it” after a day in the sun. What we may not realize is that these are the first steps in pigmentation changes to the skin. Your skin may seem to adapt and turn brown but the damage is done and the symptoms of hyperpigmentation will emerge later.
UV rays also attack the skins immune systems making it much more difficult for your natural defence mechanism to function and giving rise to cancerous changes in the skin (melanomas).
UV radiation depletes the skins antioxidant levels reducing the availability of Vitamin E, CoEnzymeQ10, Vitamin C, betacarotene and other essential nutrients for skin health. You may think you are eating your way to younger skin but if you spend too much time in the sun without proper protection you are undermining your own efforts.
Symptoms of sun damage
So much of what we think of as the natural aging process is the result of prolonged UV exposure. Even in its initial stages photoaging is likely to show itself in increased fine lines around the eyes mouth. Interestingly one of the symptoms of early photoaging is a decrease in lip color and thinning of the lip contours.
Prolonged or secondary stage photoaging brings a whole lot more unwelcome signs:
- Loss of elasticity
- Skin laxity or sagging
- Thickening of the surface layer of the skin and a leathery appearance
- Deeper wrinkles around the eyes, forehead and between the eyes when the face is still
- Thread veins or spider veins around the nose, cheeks and chin
- Uneven pigmentation and age spots
If you’re a smoker – the effect of all of this will be much worse because smoking damages the skin in very similar ways. And just because you have darker or olive skin with higher levels of melanin don’t think you will escape entirely. A tan of any sort is evidence of injury to the epidermis or top layer of the skin.
You may think this is exaggerated – especially if you can’t see the damage to your skin yet. Photoaging of skin takes a long time to show up. Try getting a scan done to show the existing level of UV damage your skin has sustained which you can’t see.
Of course you can still enjoy the great outdoors – even when the sun is at its hottest – as long as you follow the golden rules. They can best be summarized as: protect your skin with a broad spectrum high factor sunscreen; cover up and seek shade when sun is at its hottest.
Remember you need both UVB and UVA protection for your skin – broad spectrum in the jargon – and you need to buy the best you can afford for maximum anti aging protection. Skinceuticals Ultimate UV Defense is one of the best anti aging sunscreens around currently from a quality dermatologist level skin care brand.
So – do yourself a real favor – follow the three golden rules and protect your skin from aging for as long as possible!