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 sun exposure.
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
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.
Click below to read about related topics.
Taking Care of Your
Skin & Aging