Sun damage: the #1 cause of premature skin aging.
The sun creates ultraviolet – or UV – radiation, which leads to increased signs of aging. But did you know that there are three major types of radiation? UVA, UVB, and UVC radiation all affect our skin in different measures.
We’ll explain the science behind each, and tell you how to reduce the ravages of sun damage in your skin!
Defining the Many Forms of “UV” Damage
UVC radiation is by far the most dangerous form of UV radiation. Its exceptional energy levels can cause lesions, ulcers, and to the skin. Luckily, the UVC rays from the sun are considered “short wave” and are therefore blocked out by our friend, the atmosphere.
However, it should be known that there are sources of UVC radiation on our planet: mainly from man-made objects such as welding torches and mercury lamps.
UVB radiation makes up only about 5% of the sun’s UV rays, but can also lurk in the lightbulbs of tanning booth beds. Aside from its aging effects, UVB radiation can lead to premature aging, and is considered the main cause of skin cancer.
Meanwhile, the most common form of UV radiation, UVA, is the least damaging – but that doesn’t quite make it harmless. While the short term effects of UVA radiation consist of a quick tan and possible sunburn, the long term outcomes can often involve many instances of premature aging.
However, there is one thing that all of these types of radiation have in common: we have control over how they affect us.
4 Signs of UV-Related Aging
It should be acknowledged that aging is an inevitable part of life, and is completely natural. However, we all know that there is a difference between aging and aging well – and our lifestyles determine which instance we’ll experience.
Here are four common signs of aging caused by sun damage:
#1: Loss of Elasticity
One of the major ways in which UV rays can cause signs of aging is by breaking down collagen by penetrating the dermis, or middle layer of the skin. Collagen is an important foundational protein in skin. Without it, tissue begins to lose its elasticity, which can lead to the skin feeling looser.
Moreover, UV radiation contains unstable oxygen particles known as free radicals. These particles, in their attempts to find their missing electron, may steal one from another molecule – which can cause a damaging chain reaction. Furthermore, this can encourage enzymes to break down collagen and further age the skin.
#2: Aging on the Back of the Hands
Collagen breakdown is one of the main forms of premature aging, and can be especially apparent on the backs of our hands.
This is because the tissue on the backs of our hands is thinner and more delicate, and is a part of our body that’s almost constantly exposed to the sun. Even those of us who are vigilant about daily SPF may be skipping our hands! It may seem a small mishap to forget to protect one’s hands, but this oversight can have cumulative effects.
#3: Sun Spots
Besides introducing free radicals and breaking down collagen, UV rays also interact with a natural chemical in our skin known as melanin. Melanin is largely responsible for the balance of pigmentation on the skin’s surface.
Aside from this, melanin also plays a large role in protecting your skin from the sun. When our bodies don’t produce enough melanin for an encounter with the sun, it leads to sunburn.
Over time, this melanin buildup can lead to tiny splotches of hyperpigmentation, known as “sun spots” or “age spots”. They tend to occur in areas exposed to the sun: the arms, legs, face, and chest.
#4: Chest Hyperpigmentation
As with the back of our hands, the skin on the chest is also quite delicate and thin. This area possesses fewer of the oil-secreting glands that keep skin moisturized.
Not only is the chest another spot often skipped during the moisturizing regimen, but this spot is frequently missed for sunscreen as well – leading to blotchy redness all over the chest. While this effect can be summarized as ‘sunburn’, which is relatively short term, repeated sun exposure can actually make this one of the major signs of aging.
Furthermore, the delicate nature of this skin makes for especially undesired signs of aging. This skin can appear tough and leathery, making an individual look significantly older than they may actually be.
How to Prevent Premature Signs of Aging
You might be familiar with the telltale signs of aging, but let’s focus on how we can prevent sun damage from taking skin aging to the next level.
Now, it should be reiterated that aging is simply an inevitable thing for all of us: we are all meant to reach our golden years, and it is perfectly natural to possess fine lines and wrinkles as we become older!
However, we absolutely have control over how gracefully we age. As our growing wisdom gives us confidence in our choices, our lifestyles may give us confidence in our appearance – which, at any age, is a valid thing to desire. Carmen dell Orefice, for instance, is a supermodel at 88 years old and is absolutely stunning!
To prevent premature signs of aging and ensure a dignified transition into mature skin, staying out of the sun is one of the best ways in which you can protect your skin.
Naturally, though, this isn’t possible for everyone. So whenever you go outside, it is crucial to adopt the habit of always wearing sunscreen or having it on hand. Better still is a hat that will protect you from the rays, and if it’s not too hot, a high necked top can also be a good option.
While preventing sun damage is a crucial factor in skin care, it is also important that the individual utilize a regimen consisting of balance and a healthy diet. Regular moisturizing with a gentle face cream will also keep skin quenched and supple. Make sure to go over the neck and chest, too!
As it’s said before, beauty comes from the inside out, and it’s imperative that we protect these internal systems from the factors of our environment that can cause potential damage.