Ageing. Unfortunately, it happens to all of us. Wrinkles, fine lines, sagging skin and age spots are some of the most common skin concerns that effect most of the clients we treat here at Skin. But what if there was a way to reduce premature ageing by over 85%? Well luckily for us, this “magical” solution is actually a lot simpler and underrated than a lot of people think, and you probably already have it sitting at home in your bathroom cabinet. That’s right, sunscreen!
Now I know what you’re thinking, that’s about as crazy as the humbling, bumbling reporter being an undercover superhero in his spare time, but it’s true. Sun exposure is one of the most significant factors that increases premature ageing and sunscreen is one of the easiest and simplest, undercover superheros in our skincare routine that can help us look and feel younger for many years to come.
UV radiation or the sun’s rays can be broken up into 2 categories when we’re concerned about skin aging, UVB rays and UVA rays. UVB rays, otherwise known as the “burning rays” are the ones that give us that nasty sunburn. Due to their shorter wave length they only penetrate into the upper layers of the skin. This isn’t good news though, as the burning from these rays is what damages the DNA of our skin cells. This cell damage stimulates the melanocyte cells, the cells in our skin that produce pigment, to rush to create a protective umbrella over the nucleus of our burning skin cells. This is what gives us our much-loved tan, but unfortunately excess sun exposure can also cause an excess production in melanin, which results in blotchy, uneven skin tone and age spots. Constant sunburn also creates inflammation within the skin which again contributes to an increase in skin ageing. This ray also causes melanoma or skin cancer which is one of the most preventable forms of cancer that exists.
UVB rays are certainly not one to mess with, but it’s their lesser known sister UVA rays that we really need to watch out for when it comes to skin ageing. UVA rays or the ‘ageing rays’ penetrate deeper into the skins dermis where they break down all the important structural components of our skin, such as collagen, elastin and other glycosaminoglycans (GAG’s). This reaction causes an increase in fine lines and wrinkles, sagging, drooping and overall, less toned skin which can make us look and feel years older than we actually are.
Now, this all sounds intense, but it brings us back again to the simplest solution to it all, sunscreen. A recent study conducted by the Annals of Internal Medicine examined how effective sunscreen is to reducing skin ageing. The study compared 903 adults who were separated into various groups and instructed to either apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to their body daily or to apply the sunscreen at their own discretion. The researchers then studied latex impressions of the back of the participants hands over 4 years later and found that those who used the sunscreen daily showed no “detectible increase” in skin aging and overall showed 24 percent less skin aging than those in the discretionary group by study's end. "This study effectively communicates that daily sunscreen application can reduce the signs of photoaging and photodamage," says Dr. Brundha Balaraman, a dermatology researcher from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. However, she adds "The key to prevention, is to develop these healthy sun-protective habits at a young age."
Prevention is easier than a cure, and this statement is never truer when it comes to skin aging. Nevertheless, its never too late to start slapping on the sunscreen! Even if you feel like your skin is already aged and past the point of no return, sunscreen is an essential step in your skincare routine to help minimise future skin damage and help protect your skin when you are undergoing other skin treatments in clinic or using active skincare ingredients at home such as vitamins A and C which can increase your skins sun sensitivity.
We’ve come along way from the old thick, greasy and breakout inducing sunscreens of the past and nowadays, sunscreen formulas are sophisticated, smooth and non-pore clogging making them perfect for every skin type. The best time to apply sunscreen is in the last step to your skincare routine or as a part of a moisturiser-sunscreen combo. Make sure to also apply it rain or shine, as UV rays still penetrate through the clouds and even through windows which makes it just as important to apply your sunscreen even if you are spending a day indoors. Reapplying after swimming or doing any activities which make you sweat will also offer best protection. The most effective sunscreens are broad spectrum sunscreens which form a barrier from both UVB and UVA rays rather than just sunscreens labelled sun protection factors which only protect against UVB rays.
Whether it’s reducing the risk of skin cancer, or minimising the impact of premature aging, sunscreen is an amazing, underrated superhero in your anti-ageing skincare routine. It is in essential product that will help keep your skin protected and looking and feeling young for years to come. Happy Anti-Aging!