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Beauty & UV

May 06, 2021 5 min read

Beauty & UV

Here comes the sun – and another wrinkle!

Another year, another wrinkle!  We like to blame ageing skin on the passing of the years, but is acquiring wrinkles, fine lines and pigmentation inevitable as we get older?  The answer is no, it isn’t. The truth is that the main culprit in regard to age-related woes is photoaging – damage done to the dermis by exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) light. 

Dermatologists say that up to 90% of visible skin ageing is a direct result of cumulative sun damage we have been exposed to throughout our lives. Even in overcast, rainy Ireland, the sun is strong enough to cause real, lasting damage to fair, delicate Irish skin. Our reddish hair and freckles, along with a tendency to take a head-long rush to catch some sun when it does shine, makes us particularly susceptible to UV damage.

Did you know that, depending upon the condition of your skin and the lifestyle you lead, the skin you’re in may not even accurately reflect your actual age? The chances are your skin age could be a lot older than you are!  If you want to check out how much damage has already been done, there are many free online apps which analyse skin health to estimate skin age.

Why beauty actually is skin deep?

Here, we want to tell you about how UV can age your skin – and what you can do to protect it.  To do that, it is important to understand how the biggest organ in your body does its job.  Skin is composed of three layers – the epidermis (outer layer), dermis (middle layer), and subcutis (bottom layer).  The dermis contains collagen, elastin and fibres that support the skin’s structure and give it a smooth and youthful appearance.

UV radiation, which is present in sunlight, is composed of two waves: longer UVA rays and shorter UVB rays. UVB produces sunburn and plays the biggest role in causing skin cancers.  UVA, which penetrates deep into the dermis, is responsible for the damage associated with photoaging. It is around even on a cloudy day and can even penetrate window glass.

What happens is that UVA damages the collagen fibres in your skin. This increases the production of abnormal elastin which, in turn, results in the production of particular enzymes. These enzymes have a job – to rebuild damaged collagen. But in doing so, they often malfunction and actually degrade the collagen. As daily UVA exposure compounds the damage, the incorrectly rebuilt skin forms wrinkles and the depleted collagen results in leathery skin.


Sunlight is not the only culprit when it comes to dermal damage

If you think it is 100% safe to hide away indoors, behind your mobile phone or laptop, think again!  While sunlight is the main offender when it comes to skin aging, around 10% is caused by HEV (high energy visible) light and infrared light from devices such as your phone or laptop.  HEV, or blue light, is visible to the human eye while infrared cannot be seen, but can be felt as heat. Fortunately, neither of these causes skin cancer.

In addition, there are intrinsic factors involved in how our skin reacts to the causes of photoaging.  Unfortunately, some of us are more predisposed to be impacted by  exposure to harmful rays.  Genetics, for example, play a significant role in how susceptible we are too photoaging. If you have a family history of premature ageing, or  being more sensitive to sun exposure, you’ll need to take extra precautions. 

Smoking, which is most commonly associated with lung cancer, is also connected to your skin’s ability to recuperate from light exposure. The nicotine in cigarettes weakens collagen and restricts blood flow, lessening the oxygen and nutrients flowing to your skin and so hampering its ability to heal from the harmful effects of the sun.


What sun damage does to your skin – and what you can do about it

Visible signs of skin ageing include a dry appearance, wrinkling, sunspots and solar keratosis. Sunspots, also known as liver spots, are flat brown spots that develop on skin exposed to the sun. Solar keratosis (also known as actinic keratosis) results from skin being damaged by the sun over many years and looks like rough, scaly patches on exposed areas such as the head and face.

You can protect yourself against photoaging (and skin cancer) by staying out of the sun, particularly between 11am and 3pm, using a good broad spectrum sunscreen, and covering up with a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses. Once the harm is done, cosmetic treatments can help to improve the appearance and tone of the skin - but cannot actually repair sun damage. Superior skincare products like Elave Sensitive Renew can help in the fight against the ravages of UVA rays.

Elave Sensitive Renew Daily Skin Defence SPF45 is a unique combination of oil free emollients to hydrate the skin together with high UVA and UVB protection. The invisible zinc is absorbed quickly and the vitamin B5 and E antioxidant enriched formula helps protect the skin and repair environmental dermal damage. The high Sun Protection Factor helps guard against the signs of UV exposure such as dark spots, roughness and loss of elasticity. Recommended for all skin types.

Elave Sensitive Renew Daily Lip Defenceis an ultra-hydrating balm with broad-spectrum SPF20.  This multi-action formula with coconut oil, shea butter, naturally derived collagen and vitamin E reconditions, softens, smooths and protects lips from environmental damage. Menthol gives a cooling sensation.

Elave Sensitive Renew Eye Rescue Serumis a light, easily absorbed balm with a matte finish specially designed to rejuvenate the delicate eye area. This vitamin-rich formula contains natural humectants and bio extracts to hydrate and smooth. Brazilian Muira Puama and Madonna Lily reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness, while Aloe Vera juice calms and soothes. Vitamins B5, C and E provide excellent anti-oxidant environmental protection. The eye area is left refined, toned and younger looking. Recommended for all skin types, including sensitive.

Elave Sensitive Renew Rejuvenating Night Treatmentcontains beneficial hydrating emollients as well as glycolic acid arginine complex to rejuvenate the skin overnight. This special formulation promotes cellular regeneration and stimulates collagen synthesis to reveal younger looking, brighter and deeply hydrated skin.

  •  For more advice on how to protect your skin from sun damage, check out the Irish Skin Foundation at irishskin.ie.

Elave Skincare and Ovelle ranges of dermatologically-approved free-from natural products are available at gardinerfamilyapothecary.com, Boots, Dunnes Beauty and local pharmacies.

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