Sunday, June 7, 2009

UVB Light Damage

There are two types of UV light: UVA and UVB. I discussed UVA damage in a previous post. The second type, UVB, is the most damaging because it penetrates to the deepest layer of our skin where new cells are generated creating mutations that may lead to skin cancer. Repeated, extended UVB exposure also leads to sagging and premature aging of our skin.

Vertical spiral threads of protein called elastin hold all 8 layers of our skin together. As their name suggests they are stretchy and allow our skin to snap back into shape after pulling. They work like the rubberized threads in elastic waistbands. Just as repeated heating in dryers weakens the rubberized bands, elastin is weakened and loses its snap when exposed repeatedly to UVB rays.

Unfortunately, there aren’t products that can reverse UVB damage currently. The only thing we can do is prevent damage through the use of good quality sunscreens or sun blocks.

Products that filter both UVA and UVB rays provide basic protection. 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 sun block containing either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that reflects all UV rays. However, it’s important to remember that if you’re wearing sun block it will reflect any type of light, either natural or artificial. For this reason, sun blocks will reflect the light of a photoflash and make you appear ghostly in photos.

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 already have UVB damage that will result in sagging and the early aging of our skin. This fact 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.

In my next post, I’ll recommend products for UV protection.

Hugs, Carolyn

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