WHAT ARE ULTRA VIOLET RAYS AND WHAT DO THEY EXACTLY DO?
Gone are the days of ‘just slapping on sunscreen’ We need to be smarter with our sun protection, and through understanding what UVR is and how sun damage happens, we can.
Ultra Violet Rays consist out of UVA, UVB an UVC. We do not worry about UVC, they can’t penetrate through the ozone layer and reach the earth.
UVA and UVB are the ones reaching the earth and damaging our skin. UVA rays are longer and UVB rays shorter. We can recognize the different rays when we look at A-rays AGE and B-rays BURN, easy to remember, right?
Recent studies have confirmed UVA rays are the cause of skin ageing because they reach the dermis in the skin, causing havoc. The dermis (the deeper layer in our skin) holds collagen and elastin and these proteins are meant to give our skin strength and structure but will suffer when the UVA rays reach these proteins and cause damage. Pre-cancerous growths (actinic keratosis), cancerous growths, pigmentation and premature skin ageing can result from this. Did you know that UVA penetrates as well through the glass windows? Unless you have protective filters in the windows make sure you are well protected against UVA!
The UVB rays are shorter and cause burns by creating redness (erythema) and skin cancers.
When you have the ‘red head’ gene running through your veins, you’ll know that this are the ones to look out for in summer!
Both UVA and UVB rays affect our skin, so we need to look at a broad spectrum sunscreen. Sunscreen is primarily designed to protect our skin against UVB rays. UVA is more difficult to block out because they reach deeper in the skin and they cause FREE RADICALS. Free radicals are harmful molecules contributing to oxidative stress and cell damage.
So how will we protect our skin without creating excessive free radicals?
Clever product formulation and skin science
We need to look at correct product choices that will boost and protect your skin from the Ultra Violet Rays. It’s not just purchasing an SPF 50 anymore, by now we should know that this gives us only less then 2% more protection then SPF 30 from UVB rays.
Barrier protection and optimal function is a good start!
Our skin itself is pretty clever in giving us some protection through some savy chain reaction called the melanogenesis process. Starting with the melanocytes cells living at the lower layer of the epidermis (the basal layer) just above the dermal epidermal junction. These cells have long dendrites and work in conjunction with the keratinocyte.
How is this relevant? When we are exposed to sunlight UVR, this carries energy. The energy in the skin will be absorbed and neutralised by melanin to limit free radical damage within the skin. When pigment is being produced within our epidermis, that pigment granule is being taken by the melanosome towards the keratinocyte (predominant cell in our epidermis) to form a little “umbrella” over it’s nucleus to protect the cell barrier. it’s then that we can see darkening, pigmentation in the skin. The keratinocyte will keep moving (differentiating) upwards and taking with it the pigment to the surface to perform it’s final act and desquamate.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants are the ‘rescue’ to free radicals in the skin, they ‘neutralize’ them. Through food, topical products and serums we can add this to our daily regime.
Antioxidants also give complementary protection against formation of pigmentation such as Vitamin C, Azelaic Acid, Glucosamine, Liquorice extracts.
SMARTER and BETTER WAYS TO PROTECT OURSELVES:
So when we look at protecting ourselves against harmful UVR we need to take into consideration:
Correct PRODUCT CHOICE; Looking for an appropriate broad spectrum sunscreen that is suitable for YOUR skin. Whether that is through a CHEMICAL sunscreen; they allow the UV rays to hit the skin but transform these into non-damaging wave lengths of light and heat or a PHYSICAL sunscreen; they prevent the UV rays from hitting the skin at all through reflecting the rays away.
COVER UP; with appropriate wear. Hat and sunglasses especially near water. Water works as a mirror and throws the light back of the water.
Include ANTIOXIDANTS in your skincare regime. You know now what they do and how IMPORTANT THEY ARE protecting us through neutralizing the harmful free radicals.
Get in the good habit of REAPPLYING several times a day. Remember that false sense of security you get from an SPF 50 applied in the morning? Higher SPF requires more chemicals and that can lead towards more allergic reactions, sensitivities, compromised skin barriers and reduced immunity. It will extend your time in the sun well beyond and you are far more likely to absorb those UVA Rays.
LIMIT your time in the sun, especially in the midst of the day when the sun is very strong. Let’s face it Blenheim is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand. Our beautiful climate will give us plenty of Vitamin D, no doubt about that.
Last but not least, KNOW THE SKIN YOU ARE IN. Know your Fitzpatrick type. Understand that the Fitzpatrick scale classifies the skin in 6 types according to your skin tone. It estimates the UVR response to the skin. Meaning have you got a predisposition towards skin cancer? Are you carrying the MC1R gene (red gene) and how strong is it present? Your freckles and moles? Being aware and checking up on your history is very important.