We all love a bit of a walk in the sun, especially after experiencing gloomy weather or slogging away in a dreary air-conditioned office or library all day.
But — there’s a dark side to the sun’s light.
You don’t need an expert to tell you that too much sunlight can burn your skin. But even if you don’t burn, prolonged exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays can lead to a process known as photo aging.
Here’s how it works.
When the sun’s UVA and UVB rays launch their assault, your skin defends itself by producing more melanin — the pigment that gives you a tan. While melanin is a useful defense mechanism, its over-production occurs unevenly in the skin, causing the appearance of dark spots.
Over time, these spots disrupt normal melanin production and cause further over-production. This accumulation prevents the skin from shedding the excess melanin in its daily renewal process.
The long-term results? Darkened, spotted and leathery skin that makes you look older.
But that’s not all… UV radiation causes skin cells to release enzymes that damage your dermal fibroblasts.
Say what? Dermal fibroblasts are cells that generate connective tissue which aids skin in recovery after injury. Damaged dermal fibroblasts lead to, you guessed it, skin that’s less able to repair itself.
Thankfully, there are ways to prevent dark spots and other manifestations of photo aging in your skin.
Firstly, stick to a regular skincare routine — cleanser and moisturizer at the minimum. Not only will this give your skin a clear and soft exterior, but will strengthen skin health and boost its immunity against aggressors, like UV rays.
Secondly, start using skincare products with brightening and antioxidant properties. For example, look out for products that can help boost your body’s natural production of glutathione, or those that contain Vitamin B3.
Thirdly, don’t leave home without sufficient sun protection — sunscreen, hat, umbrella and sunglasses. Prevention is always better than cure!