Summer is here (sort of…) and many of us are desperate to travel abroad or enjoy any possible glimpse of sunshine we might see in the UK. Not only does the sun give us that lovely summer glow, it also triggers the production of vitamin D which is proven to improve our mood and overall happiness – but like all good things, we can get too much!
Now we don’t want to ‘dampen’ the summer mood, but as we are all clinging on to the hope that we might actually see a summer in the UK this year we thought it was important for you to know all the facts around sun exposure, your skin and the potential damage it can cause. This will help you to enjoy the sun responsibly and keep your skin healthy.
The sun’s rays are referred to as UVR (Ultraviolet Radiation) and are made up of different types of light – the most abundant of which are UVA, UVB and UVC rays. These forms of light have different wave lengths, measured in nanometers which refers to the depth they are able to penetrate the earth and more importantly the skin.
UVA are the longest rays and penetrate deepest into the skin. They are nicknamed the “aging” ray as they trigger the release of certain chemicals in the body that cause DNA damage to our cells. They cause immediate skin darkening and pigmentation complications in the Dermis (the deeper layer of the skin) and also result in a loss of skin elasticity which causes wrinkles on the skin’s surface.
UVB, nicknamed the “burning” ray, can only penetrate the epidermis causing that “burning” sensation in the skin when you have been exposed to the sun for too long. Even though UVB only penetrates the superficial layer of the skin it darkens the skin immediately and can lead to the formation of skin cancers in cases of extreme over exposure.
UVC is the shortest ray and by far the most damaging. This ray is stopped by the ozone layer in the atmosphere.
Melanin content is genetic and creates the beautiful variations of skin colour we find from person to person, but overproducing melanin can be extremely damaging to the skin. UVA and UVB influence the melanocytes (an oddly shaped cell found in the bottom layer of the Epidermis that creates pigment) to start creating melanin (skin colour) - this happens through a process called melanogenesis. Many of us love the healthy, glowing look we get from having a tan, but in essence a tan is our body’s way of protecting our skin. With over exposure to UVR, the skin’s natural defences are slowly broken down and the damage and repair response becomes less reactive, leaving the skin open to DNA damage and, in severe cases, the cells can mutate causing cancerous lesions.
It is important to understand our skin, so we can protect it and keep it looking young and healthy! Not all skins have the same tolerance to UV, this is usually the case in lighter skins. Some of us burn after 5 - 10 mins of sun exposure and others can sit for as long as 30 mins before they feel the heat and “burn”.
So, how can we achieve a healthy summer glow but still shield our skin from potential damage?
Here are 5 essential tips for looking after your skin in the sun:
- Time of day affects the strength of UVR. The Ultraviolet Index, or UV Index is an international standard measurement of the strength of sunburn-producing UVR at a particular place and time. Limit sun exposure when the UV Index is 3 or higher, usually between 11am and 3pm.
- Find / create some shade. Bring a small umbrella with you, a large hat or find a good, shaded area to shield your skin in the hottest times of the day.
- Cover up with UV protective clothing and ensure that you apply sunscreen on all exposed areas, this includes the ears, back of the neck and hairline on the face.
- Sunscreens are imperative to protect you skin against UVR and knowing the ingredient make up of the product you are applying is useful. There are 2 types of sun protection factors (SPF) chemical and physical. Chemical suncreen absorbs the light touching the skin’s surface and converts the rays into a heat energy which is omitted from the skin’s surface. Once the chemical components have completed this energy exchange, the cream has little protective function left - therefore reapplication is vital in full sun exposure. Physical suncreen creates a physical barrier on the skin’s surface. They are the most effective form of topical SPF, but they have a white opaque colour to them which is not always practical. Most SPF creams today are a mixture of the 2 to create a broad-spectrum cover for your skin. Another important fact to consider when choosing the level of protection is to look at the number on the bottle, the lower the factor, more frequent application is needed.
- Repair and protect. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that overexposure may occur from time to time, so you need to know what to use to repair, hydrate and strengthen sun damaged skin.
A must-have addition to your year-round skincare routine is Crème Rescue Serum. This serum contains 5 active ingredients that work quickly to restore, repair and rejuvenate the skin following exposure to sun. It is deeply hydrating, diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and extremely soothing – blocking the production of cortisol in the skin and containing natural pain-relieving peptides that decrease inflammation and redness. The serum works to reduce the appearance of sun damage or pigmentation, and speeds up the healing process. Crème Rescue Serum should be used as part of your everyday skincare routine as a powerful anti-ageing serum and all-round hero serum, but can also be used as an emergency fixer after the skin has been damanged.