Did you know that up to 90% of your visible skin aging can be attributed to the sun? Overexposure to Ultraviolet (UV) rays is the second leading cause of premature wrinkles, just after smoking. UV radiation damages our DNA at a cellular level. Some of the long-term changes to the skin that UV rays cause include:
Luckily, there are ways you can prevent sun damage. In this article, we will explain the types of UV rays and how each one affects us, tackle some of the myths about UV rays and sun protection, and share ways you can reduce sun damage and protect your skin.
There are different types of rays that come from the sun, some visible and some invisible. Let’s dive into each one and how it affects us.
Next, there are the rays that: ultraviolet radiation. There are 3 main types of UV rays.
It is important to know the distinction between UVA and UVB as we break down the common myths about UV damage and protection.
There's a lot of information out there about UV Radiation and its effects on our skin. That's why we're breaking down some of the major misconceptions many people believe and explaining what the truth is. Below are 6 of the biggest myth about UV rays and skin damage.
As we discussed above in our breakdown of the different types of sun rays, the UV radiation that cause sunburn--UVB--is different than that which causes aging--UVA. Many people make the mistake of using sunscreen that only protects from UVB rays, while not protecting against UVA. It’s important to use sunscreen that has broad spectrum protection, meaning it blocks both kinds of UV and protects us from all potential damage.
UV rays can and will harm you, even if it’s cloudy. While it’s true that UVB rays are less intense when the sun is hiding, UVA rays are always able to reach you, no matter the weather. They can penetrate clouds even on dark, rainy days. This is why you still need sun protection every day, even when you can’t see the sun.
During winter, when the Earth is tilted away from the sun, it’s true that the atmosphere blocks some of the UV radiation. However, UV rays are still present and can cause skin damage during this time, even though it may be a slower process. It’s a myth that we don’t need sunscreen during the colder, darker months. In fact, UVB rays add an extra layer of danger in the winter as they have the ability to bounce off of snow, ice, and other reflective surfaces.
It’s true that UVB rays are largely blocked by glass, which is why you are unlikely to get a sunburn sitting next to a window. However, UVA rays, which are responsible for aging, are not. Approximately 50% of UVA radiation can penetrate glass. This is why we encourage everyone to wear sunscreen even if they are inside most of the day.
There are several famous examples of people whose skin was significantly damaged by exposure to UV rays through glass.
One well known report is truck driver Bill McElliot. He drove for 28 years with the left side of his face exposed to the sun through the window of his truck. Note the difference between that side of his face and the right side, which wasn’t as exposed to these sun rays:
Another famous example is of a woman who worked at the same desk next to a window for multiple decades. You can see significant damage to the side of her face that was exposed to the window (A), compared to the side that faced away from it (B).
It’s true that sunscreen protects you from a large portion of UV radiation. However, no sunscreen can protect you from 100% of UV rays. Fortunately, some sunscreens are better than others when it comes to sun protection. Here are some key factors to look for in a sunscreen:
During the sun’s peak hours (approximately 10am to 3pm depending on the time of year), it is best to cover your skin with clothes, wear a hat, or simply limit your time outside.
While this is true for some pharmaceutical-grade sunscreen, most sunscreen you buy at the drugstore works for approximately 80 minutes before it starts to break down. This means you should be reapplying about every 1-2 hours. Keep in mind it takes about 15 minutes after application for sunscreen to activate.
Now that you know just how dangerous exposure to UV rays is to your skin, let’s talk about some of the ways you can prevent it from happening. Keep in mind that this is not an all-inclusive list, but instead serves as a starting point for sun damage prevention.
Vitamin C is renowned for its skin healing, brightening, and protective properties. It is a great addition to your daily skin care routine, as it adds an extra layer of protection against the sun by blocking some of its UV rays before they get to your skin (but it should not be used as a substitute for sunscreen). Vitamin C also boosts collagen growth, giving your skin a more youthful appearance.
One of the most damaging effects of UV Rays is that they dry out the skin. Over time, sun damage decreases the skin’s ability to hold moisture. Applying a moisturizer both when you start your day and when you end it helps keep your skin hydrated, which prevents premature aging signs.
As mentioned above, it’s important to wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine, snowy or sunny, inside or outside. Make sure it offers UVA and UVB protection, has an SPF of 30 or higher, and that you reapply it as directed by the instructions on the bottle. It’s best to apply sunscreen as the last step of your morning skin care routine, after all your other products have been applied.
Retinoid is a powerful skin repairing formula. This molecule promotes cell turnover and skin rejuvenation, reducing visible signs of sun damage such as wrinkles and dark spots. Retinoid only needs to be used 2-3 times a week, depending on your skin type. Make sure to use it at night only; Retinoids are photo-unstable and break down in the sunlight, making your skin more prone to sun damage if you wear it during the day.
Just like our teeth benefit from routine dentist appointments for professional cleaning, our skin too benefit from regular professional skin care treatments. At Enhance MD Body and Skin Clinic, our clinicians conduct a full skin analysis, discuss your needs and goals with you, and recommend the treatment(s) that can help you get the skin you want.
If you are interested in finding out what your skin’s needs are and how to improve problem areas, come visit us at Enhance MD Body & Skin Clinic. We offer skin care treatments, skin correction services, and several lines of professional-grade products to treat your skin.
To schedule a consultation or service, call us at 651-222-3127, or book online right from our website. We are available in both Inver Grove Heights and Roseville, MN. We look forward to meeting you!