sun is the major cause of skin aging, part of a process called photoaging.
Those age spots and wrinkles you thought were naturally part of
your body’s maturation are actually caused by the harmful
effects of the sun over a lifetime of exposure. Protection from
the sun, including SPF at all times and limited amounts of direct
exposure, is the only way to prevent those unwelcome effects of
aging. Sun damage is also the major cause of skin cancer. Having
direct family members who have had skin cancer also increases your
risk of developing skin cancer. However, the major risk factor is
The ultraviolet (UV) light in the sun is the real culprit. Two types
of ultraviolet rays exist: UVA and UVB. UVB causes sunburn while
UVA causes suntan. Both are damaging to the appearance of your skin
and contribute to photaging. Both can cause skin cancer. Indoor
tanning beds are just as harmful as the sun, because they emit those
same ultraviolet rays. Also, you can experience sun damage any time
of the year—in the winter or the summer. It can cause freckles,
wrinkles, discoloration, benign tumors and pre-cancerous and cancerous
skin lesions. These pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions on your
skin are caused by the loss of the skin’s immune function
due to damage that comes from sun exposure and ultraviolet light.
The three most common types of skin cancer are:
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Basal cell carcinoma
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and, if not detected
early enough, it can spread throughout the body. A lifetime of sun
exposure causes all types of skin cancer. Severe sunburn is often
a factor in the development of melanoma. Although it’s too
late to go back and erase the years you spent as a teenager on the
beach in your bikini, you can still protect yourself now. And, if
you’re lucky, your skin might be able to repair itself as
long as you take the necessary protective measures now—and
avoid further damage.
Even a seemingly “healthy” sun tan is skin damage. That’s
why, when it comes to sun exposure, there is no “healthy.”
Some women think that going to a tanning bed is a safer alternative
than lying out in the sun. This isn’t true. Tanning beds have
the same damaging effects on your skin as the sun. Both emit harmful
ultraviolet rays, which are the leading cause of skin cancer and
premature aging (especially wrinkles).
If you’re still concerned about looking pale, recent innovations
in the world of sunless tanning have been very beneficial to the
cosmetics industry. Because women across the nation are becoming
more and more aware of the damaging effects of the sun, cosmetic
companies are capitalizing on this and providing healthy alternatives
to the suntan. That’s good news for you. If you think that
tans in a bottle mean orange and streaky stains, think again. Try
out some of the newer products to see which one works best with
your skin, but you might just be surprised with these innovations.
And if you don’t want to do it yourself, salons across the
country are developing new “airbrush tanning” techniques
that use an enzyme called DHA to apply an authentic, even tan across
your whole body. These procedures are fairly expensive, and they
are relatively new. That means that they haven’t been tested
completely for other side effects, but they definitely don’t
contain ultraviolet rays.
When you are choosing a sun protection lotion, pay attention to
the SPF. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. SPF actually indicates
how long the product will help protect you against the sun. So,
an SPF 8 will offer the same amount of protection as an SPF 30,
but the SPF 30 will protect your skin for longer. Also, SPF applies
only to one type of ultraviolet ray, the UVB, which causes sunburn.
Some products won’t offer any protection against UVA. So,
you should find a “broad spectrum” sunscreen in order
to get protection from both types of rays. If you’re active
in the sun, swim or sweat a lot, your product will wear off easily
and needs to be reapplied. When in doubt, wear a hat, and use an
umbrella or seek out the shade.
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Taking Care of Your