Fact: you need to wear sun protection every day. Also a fact: some days, it doesn’t feel like it’s a huge deal if you skip it. We hate to be the bearer of bad news but unfortunately, sun damage doesn’t take a day off. Your skin remains vulnerable to the havoc UV rays can wreak even on the most overcast of days.
To help fire up your motivation and commitment to slathering on UV protection every day, here’s an inkling of what the sun does to your skin at full blast.
UV rays damage your skin’s natural defences
Your skin has a natural protective barrier that is highly impermeable, designed to both prevent moisture loss and stop harmful irritants or microorganisms from entering your skin. A large part of this protection comes from dead cells and lipids, which are natural fats in the barrier that coat your skin. UV rays are able to oxidise these lipids and weaken your skin barrier as a whole.
Wear your sunscreen diligently every day and your skin will thank you for it in the long run.
Melanin protection from uv light may be too late
Who doesn’t love sun-kissed skin? Unfortunately, that lightly bronzed glow perfect with ocean curls is actually the result of your skin trying to protect itself. UV exposure triggers the production of melanin, a pigment that absorbs radiation and acts as a natural sunshade for skin cells. This causes the visible tanning effect and dark spots to form. In other words, when your skin tans, it’s your body trying to protect itself from further damage.
However, the cells that produce melanin sit on the deeper layers of your skin – which means that by the time harmful UV rays reach these cells, they have already damaged the skin layers above it.
It can cause collagen loss in your face
We accept aging as a natural passage of time, but did you know that UVA are UVB rays are the main extrinsic causes accounting for more than 80% of skin aging? In fact, studies have shown that less than 20% of aging is due to intrinsic factors such as your genetics – implying that the speed at which your skin ages has more to do with sun exposure than your natural body makeup.
Collagen is an essential protein in your skin, central to the building blocks of healthy-looking skin (along with hyaluronic acid and elastin). Its key function is to give our skin strength and elasticity. Sun exposure degrades collagen, accelerating the breakdown of this essential protein. Research done on sun-damaged skin found it to contain less collagen than healthy-looking skin. With less collagen, your skin’s appearance ages earlier with premature wrinkles and sagging.
UV damage wreaks havoc on your DNA
The scariest part of UV exposure is the cellular damage it can do, almost instantly. DNA damage from sun exposure happen in a matter of seconds, which means that a quick stroll to your car on a hot afternoon might not be as harmless as you think. In fact, a published study discovered that the damage from that short exposure can last for hours after the instantaneous reaction. Unprotected exposure to UV rays generates free radicals in your skin. Free radicals are unstable molecules that disrupt healthy cells, causing a chain reaction of cell damage. In extreme cases, free radicals can alter your cell’s genetic material in a way that leads to cancer – which is why skin cancer is a higher risk in countries with fair-skinned women under intense sunlight. Luckily, protection against the sun is relatively easy. Here are some ways you can up your SPF game to keep your skin safe.
Tips on wearing sunscreen daily and SPF benefits
Wear at least SPF30 with a PA++ rating –
every day, no excuses. SPF measures the protection against UVB rays, while the PA value stands for UVA defense.
Apply your sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you leave the house
That’s how long it takes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and be protected from UV rays.
Use a dedicated UV protection product, instead of relying on the SPF in your base makeup or loose powder.
research has shown that the amount required to achieve the stated protection with such products is way more than the amount you’d actually put on.
Reapply your sunscreen every two hours.
Wearing makeup? Sunscreen sprays and powders are a convenient way to reapply and touch up your SPF during the day. Make sure to use enough product to thoroughly cover all exposed skin.
The sun is harshest during the day from 10AM to 2PM.
If you have to be outdoors during this time, seek shade, layer your UV protection with SPF50 and PA+++ sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and clothes that cover as much skin as possible.