Shield Away from UV Rays
Protect skin from premature ageing, skin cancer & more!
As Malaysians, we have a love-hate relationship with the sun. Since we experience tropical climates throughout the year, we expect to see the sun most of the time. Despite the humidity, we still enjoy spending lots of time outdoors having picnics with friends and family or playing our favourite sports.
The sun is a blessing to us as it helps to produce crops as well as provides lots of health benefits, physically and mentally. Sunlight is an important source of Vitamin D as they are necessary for our body to absorb calcium to build strong bones and muscles. Moreover, sunlight also plays an important role in setting our circadian rhythms by regulating serotonin and melatonin hormone level to be released in our brain.
Effects of the Sunlight and its UV Rays:
Ironically, excessive exposure to the sun can put your skin and health at stake. Let’s find out what are the effects of sunlight and how Ultraviolet (UV) rays cause damage to us:
#1 Premature Ageing
Over time, wrinkles, fine lines and pigmentation are inevitable skin issues that often appear as we age. While we can blame it on being another year older, the ultimate culprit is photoaging — a type of skin damage that is caused by exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) light that will age your skin more quickly than one that ages naturally. This phenomenon is also known as premature ageing.
Photoaging is responsible for 90% of visible changes on our skin. When UV light hits unprotected skin, it changes the DNA in the skin cells, which can produce genetic defects or mutations. Sadly, we don’t realise the damage has been done because it takes years before they become visible. Some signs of photoaging include melasma, freckles, wrinkles, pigmentation, loss of skin elasticity and broken capillaries (spider veins).
Two types of UV light contribute to higher risks for premature ageing as well as skin cancer:
- Ultraviolet A (UVA) has a longer wavelength and is a major contributor to skin damage which ultimately causes skin ageing due to UVA penetrating deeper into the skin.
- Ultraviolet B (UVB) has a shorter wavelength which affects the outermost layer of the skin and is the primary cause of sunburns.
While UVA and UVB rays differ in how they affect the skin, they both cause harm.
In other words, UV radiation causes collagen to break down at a higher rate than normal ageing. They penetrate the middle layer of skin (dermis), causing the abnormal buildup of elastin which inadvertently breaks down collagen. If this continues, this would only speed up the process, leading to further wrinkling and sagging.
#2 Eye Injuries
As much as we need to protect our skin from the sun, we also need to protect our eyes from the dangerous UV rays. Too much direct sunlight can hurt our eyes. Damages from the sun are something that can be built over time and potentially becomes worse if you choose to ignore it. The reason is over exposure to sunlight can cause sunburn to your cornea, which may result in blindness, increasing risks of macular degeneration and cataracts or at worst eye cancer.
To prevent any risks and possibilities, remember to wear sunglasses with UV protection lenses or wear a hat if you know you will be out under direct sunlight for some time. These methods would help to protect your eyes from the scorching sun.
#3 Immune System Effects
Your body is amazing at providing what you need more than you think, on condition that your body is healthy. They are capable of providing a defensive immune system to attack infections and abnormal cell growths, including cancer.
However, if the skin continues to expose to excessive sunlight, certain chemicals might be released and suppress the healthy cells, thus weakening the overall immune response. Moreover, excessive UV exposure appears to prevent apoptosis (the body’s last line of immune defence), allowing precancerous cells the opportunity to become harmful.
#4 Skin Cancer
It’s hard to identify the intensity of the UV rays because we cannot feel or see them. Regardless of the season and temperature, UV levels can be damaging on cool, cloudy as well as sunny days. Nevertheless, UV rays are always the highest during the middle of the day, between 10 am to 2 pm, so it is best to avoid the sun during this period.
As mentioned before, there is a higher potential damage of producing genetic defects or mutation due to the DNA changes in the skin cells for those who are unprotected from UV light. Furthermore, when the body has a weaker immune system, it is a higher possibility of getting skin cancer.
Ways to protect yourself from the harsh sunlight & UV rays
Self-care always requires effort starting with oneself. It is not too late to begin your sun care routine. To begin, always opt for a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or higher before heading out the door. In fact, it is advisable to wear sunscreen even if you’re staying at home because UV rays can travel through the windows as well.
The general rule is that sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours for consistent protection throughout the day. A common misconception is that using a higher SPF doesn’t mean you apply lesser between sunscreen applications. However, reapplying sunscreen (cream, lotion & spray formulas) every 2 hours may be impractical for most people, especially for those at work or in school. Moreover, cream-based sunscreen can be thick, and greasy which may leave white streaks on your face and doesn’t look presentable.
As an alternative, you may opt for oral sunscreen that is formulated with golden tomato, a prominent photoaging protective ingredient and Vitamin C, an antioxidant for healthy skin renewal. These two-star ingredients work together to protect against skin ageing, allowing you to protect your skin from within.