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UV protection isn’t only for the holiday season.
daily use of broad spectrum sunscreen can significantly reduce the risks of premature ageing and skin cancers
skin is exposed to short wave ultraviolet B (UVB) and long wave ultraviolet A (UVA1 and UVA2) light every day.
UVA (ageing rays) penetrates skin more deeply than UVB (burning rays), and scientific evidence suggests UVA1 is the most damaging.
as much as 95% of the UV radiation we are exposed to is UVA, since it penetrates through clouds, window glass, during all daylight hours and throughout the year, even on the most miserable of winter days.
UVA plays a major part in skin ageing, loss of collagen, development of wrinkles and contributes to the development of skin cancer.
UVB rays are strongest in the summer months, and between 10am – 4pm, when we are more likely to burn, if unprotected – they are strongest nearest the equator, so take care when holidaying in these locations.
UVA rays are constant irrespective of time of year, day or geography.
when skin is exposed to UVA rays, reactive oxygen species or free radicals are created – this causes oxidative stress, degradation of collagen and production of melanin (responsible for your tan).
100x more UVA than UVB reaches the dermis, with UVA1 penetrating the deepest and causing most damage.
UVA’s effects are cummulative, which is why it is responsible for the many signs of ageing and development of skin cancers.
melanin is a pigment produced by the skin in an attempt to protect itself from further damage – its presence, seen in your developing tan, age spots or hyper-pigmentation, is an indicator that the skin has been damaged by UVA rays.
UVA1 is highly immunosuppressive making the skin more susceptible to infections, including triggering the cold sore virus.
UVB is the main cause of skin reddening and sun burn.
it plays a key role in the development of melanomas & skin cancers – it does cause skin ageing, but not as much as UVA.
UVB does not penetrate window glass, but it is reflective – up to 80% can bounce back from water, snow and ice, and 20% from sand, so take extra care on winter ski holidays and when out on the water.
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in mountain environments, fewer pollutants, high altitude and reflection of rays from snow, mean skin is exposed to higher levels of UV.
UV levels increase by approx 10% with every 1000m climbed. unprotected skin can burn within 6 minutes at 3000m, as skin is exposed to 30% more UV than at sea level.
lips and eyes are especially vunerable and are easily damaged.
UV rays are the main creators of free radicals in skin – they are unstable oxygen molecules that steal energy from healthy cells, causing oxidative stress.
this in turn activates enzymes that break down collagen and damage the DNA of a cell, causing premature ageing.
oxidative stress is cumulative and once energy from one cell has been snatched, it triggers more and more, a sort of a mexican wave effect, leaving damage in its wake, that builds up over time.
every wondered why a cut apple goes brown, shrivels and wrinkles so quickly? this is oxidation – free radicals damaging cells right before your eyes.
reducing the formation of free radicals helps to keep skin healthy, resilient and youthful.
supplying the body with anti-oxidants, topically through skincare and through your diet (by eating lots of fruit & veg) can also help ‘mop up’ free radicals that are formed.
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