e all love the feeling that the sun gives us… It warms us up and makes us feel relaxed and rejuvenated from within… Especially when we’re laying on a banana lounge, with a pina colada in our hand! But have you ever stopped to think exactly WHAT that sunshine is doing to your skin or overall health? … Don’t get me wrong – a little vitamin D here and there is OK… But in small amounts, and here’s why.
Even though UV rays only make up a very small portion of the sun’s rays, they are the main cause of the sun’s damaging effects on the skin.
UV rays cause destruction to our collagen fibres and damage the DNA of our skin cells… It’s when this damage caused by the sun, then affects the DNA of our genes that control skin cell growth, that skin cancers can begin.
Being a part of the beauty industry, I hear daily, the skin concerns of my customers… One of the number one concerns that most of us share – is the concern of premature ageing within the skin.
We all want to look the best for our age, hence why we look for skincare products and treatments that will help reverse these effects of time… But skincare and treatments can only correct and improve so much.
It all starts with our relationship with the sun.
We need to respect its strength and power and understand the vulnerabilities that our skin has, in relation to it.
UVA rays, age our skin cells and can damage their DNA.
These ageing rays are linked to long-term skin damage such as wrinkles, pigmentation and a rough skin texture… Ageing in a nutshell! But they are also thought to play a role in some skin cancers forming. Most tanning beds give off large amounts of UVA, which has been found to increase the risk of skin cancer.
UVB rays have slightly more energy compared to UVA rays.
They can directly damage the skin cells DNA, and are the main rays that cause our skin to burn and go red. They are also thought to cause most skin cancers.
It’s said that UV rays are at their strongest, between 10am and 4pm each day… So it’s between these times, that our skin is at its most vulnerable.
By covering up and applying sunscreen to your skin, your reducing your risk of UV damage to your skin significantly… In fact, applying an SPF 30+ will filter out 97% of incoming UVB rays and protect your skin for about 5 hours, while applying an SPF50+ will filter out 98% of UVB rays and protect your skin for around 8 hours. The higher the SPF, the more protection your skin is getting and for a longer period of time.
So how much sun is recommended in order to get our daily dose of Vitamin D?
Vitamin D forms in the skin when it is exposed to UV from sunlight. It can also be obtained from some foods. We need vitamin D to maintain good health and to keep bones and muscles strong and healthy.
The best source of vitamin D is UVB radiation from the sun. UV radiation levels vary depending on the location, time of year, time of day, cloud coverage and the environment… But for most people, adequate vitamin D levels are reached through regular incidental exposure to the sun… Think hanging the washing out on the line, driving or going for a quick walk!
During Summer, when the UV index is higher (3 or above), vitamin D levels are maintained by just spending a few minutes outside unprotected… However in the cooler months, when the UV index is lower (below 3), being outside in the middle of the day (when the UV rays are at a safer level) for a longer period of time, with just a bit of skin exposed – will help boost vitamin D levels within the skin.
So… Let’s talk some common ‘myths’, when in relation to sun protection!
Sun damage is not possible on windy, cloudy or cool days.
FALSE! You can get sun damage on windy, cloudy and cool days. Sun damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation, not by the temperature. A cool or overcast day in summer can have similar UV levels to a warm, sunny day… In fact, on a cloudy day UV can be even more intense – due to the reflection of the clouds! If it’s a windy day, and you get a red face, it’s likely to be sunburn…There’s no such thing as ‘windburn’.
A fake tan darkens the skin, protecting skin from the sun.
FALSE! Fake tans do not improve your body’s ability to protect itself from the sun or from its harmful UV rays, so you will still need sun protection. Some fake tans have an SPF rating, however, this gives very little protection and should not be relied on for continued protection.
Sunscreen is not needed, when using makeup that contains an SPF.
FALSE! Unless your cosmetics are labelled with an SPF 30+ or 50+, you should wear additional sunscreen under your makeup if you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period… A good habit to start, to prevent premature for the future!
People with olive skin are not at risk of skin cancer.
FALSE! Regardless of skin type, exposure to UV radiation from the sun and other artificial sources, like solariums, can cause skin to be permanently damaged. People with skin types that are less likely to burn, like an olive skin, can still receive enough UV exposure to risk developing skin cancer.
So my best advice to you if you’re wanting to prevent premature ageing to your skin? Have fun – enjoy the beautiful outdoors… But use SPF and cover up in the sun!
If you have any moles or unusual looking growths anywhere on your skin – Please pop in to see your GP for a check up!