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UV Rays And The Signs Of Ageing On Your Skin

Aug 11, 2017 10:30:00 AM / by Mr. Fuan Chan

If you ask any skincare or medical professional about the one thing you should do to keep your skin looking healthy, most would say: ‘Protect it from the sun.’ The sun is essential for life but it can also be one of our biggest enemies when it comes to the skin. The sun’s UV rays can be responsible for skin cancer, which is a very common problem in Ireland (you can read more about it here) but it is also responsible for so many aspects of skin ageing.

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It is generally believed that the sun is responsible for around 80% of what we think of as the signs of ageing: lines, wrinkles, a loss of firmness, sagging, etc. It’s quite a thought, isn’t it, that with a lifetime of care regarding sun exposure, we could be left looking more youthful in our old age.

The problem is down to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. The sun emits various types of UV, each one classified by their wavelength. UVC have a short wavelength but are mostly filtered by the atmosphere so don’t pose much of a problem. UVB, known as the burning rays, are medium wavelength and only penetrate the superficial skin layers. As well as being responsible for burning, they can cause skin cancer.

The long wave UVA waves penetrate deeper into the skin and are often referred to as the ageing rays. From an aesthetic or ageing point of view, exposure to UV has numerous negative effects, particularly on the skin’s structure, leading to long-term issues.

It weakens the skin's connective tissue (which is made up of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid) and this results in the loss of elasticity and plumpness. Skin loses its youthful springy texture, become dull and lacking in volume, and it also leads to the development of fine lines and wrinkles that many people then seek to address with the use of non-surgical facial rejuvenation treatments such as dermal fillers or Botox.

Targeting specific areas of the face with such treatments can lead to an overall enhanced natural beauty and youthful look, but the process of keeping your skin healthy and full of life is one that should be taken from as early as your 20s, and should continue throughout your life, with sun protection a key part of this.

Sun exposure can also cause dilated capillaries (causing thread veins and giving skin a flushed appearance) and hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation causes the skin to become uneven in colour, because of the overproduction of melanin.

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As you might guess, protecting skin from the damaging effects of sun is – or should be – a priority when it comes to prolonging your youthful appearance. We do need some sun exposure to enable our bodies to produce vitamin D, but only a few minutes of incidental sun exposure is sufficient for that.

Beyond that is is essential to use SPF daily. In a country like Ireland, with our notorious lack of sunshine and cooler weather, it can be easy to think skin is less at risk, but this is not the case. UV rays penetrate cloud and even on overcast days your skin is exposed to UV.

For day to day life, if you’re just going from the car to the office, for example, an SPF15 should be adequate for the Irish climate. For more prolonged sun exposure, or on hot days (and especially on holidays) look to SPF30 or SPF50. It is important to also choose a high-quality product, one that is ‘broad spectrum’ (in other words it protects against UVA and UVB rays).

The Sunscreen I highly recommended is from theZO (Zen Obagi) SkinHealth range. It is on the premium end of sunscreen and provides the protection you need to stop the skin damage caused by UV rays, as demonstrated in the latest video from my clinic, which you can see below:

Make sure to apply it to all exposed areas – paying attention to the neck, décolletage and back of the hands too, not just the face.  It is the single most helpful thing you can do for your skin to keep it looking healthy and youthful for many years to come.

Learn more about how a good skincare regime and sun protection can keep you looking young and healthy by arranging a consultation at my clinic, and download my Ten Year Beauty Plan: The Process For A Younger-Looking Face:

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Mr. Fuan Chan

Written by Mr. Fuan Chan

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