Sunday, May 31, 2009


It’s not sunlight that’s so bad for our skin but the UV rays in daylight. Notice I wrote ‘daylight’ not ‘sunlight’. This principle explains how you can get a sunburn on an overcast day. Therefore, protective products should really be called daylight screen.

There are two types of UV light: UVA and UVB. UVA light changes the pigment cells in our skin. These cells are responsible for the ‘tan’ we all strive for.

While UVA light produces tanning, it also permanently damages our pigment cells. The gorgeous tan of today is the creator of age spots in our middle years. Damaged pigment cells continue to lounge around in the middle skin layers until, when activated by hormonal changes like menopause, they become permanently dark. These changes can also occur during pregnancy.

Basic protection is provided by products that filter both UVA and UVB rays. These products may be labeled as ‘broad spectrum’. Additionally, they should have a SPF rating of at least 30.

The highest level of protection is a reflective sunblock containing either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that reflects all light, either natural or artificial. For this reason, sun blocks will reflect the light of a photoflash and make you appear ghostly.

An important fact about any UV protection is that is has to be applied generously and daily to be effective. Use at least a teaspoon on your face. Also sunscreens have to be reapplied every two hours since UV light degrades the protective ingredients into harmful ones that will actually accelerate UV damage. Nice twist, eh?

Since we receive the bulk of our sun damage before the age of 18 most of us are destined to produce ‘age spots’ during our middle years. While this sounds like it’s useless to use any sun protection at this stage of the game. Let me strongly urge you to resist that idea.

Although sun protection will not reverse the damage we already have, it will prevent further damage. As we age, UV damage compounds at a faster rate…like coasting downhill on a bike. So that any damage comes more apparent at a faster rate.

Next time I’ll discuss damage caused by the other UV light...UVB.



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