Suddenly, looking in the mirror is a burden. Suddenly, you don’t go out that much. The sight of crow’s feet haunts you even if you don’t have them. Face it, you’re aging.
Technically, aging means a process that includes changes in the structure and elasticity of the skin over time. Usually, it starts as early as your late teenage years and may start as late as in your late twenties. Our skin does a lot of things. It analyzes sensations such as pressure, pain and touch. It also protects us from the environment, helps balance fluid and electrolytes and most of all, helps in the regulation of our body temperature. With that said, our skin is clearly overworked. The least we can do is protect it from further harm.
Aging is majorly caused by either of these two: normal physiological aging (no matter what we do, we will wrinkle in time) and UV exposure (accounts for 95% of the wrinkles that you might have now). The enemy that we have to combat is the UV exposure. How can we beat it?
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
There are three kinds of UV rays: the UVA, UVB and UVC. These are graded according to their wavelength. The longest wavelength rage are UVA rays and the shortest, UVC rays.
UVA wavelengths are almost harmless. The hazard is not non-existing but it’s highly negligible. Sunlight, when passing through ordinary glass contains UVA wavelengths. Short UVA wavelengths are those used for sun/UV tanning. However, this form of tanning is not completely safe. It still exposes your skin to UV rays and hastens its aging. Also, around 50% of skin cancer is acquired through sun tanning.
UVA does not damage DNA directly, unlike UVB and UVC. It doesn’t cause sunburn but it can penetrate deeply. UVA can produce reactive chemical intermediates which can harm the DNA such as hydroxyl and oxygen radicals. UVA rays damage the collagen fibers of your skin.
Next, let’s talk about UVB. Your skin can only take small amounts of UVB rarely. Meaning, no matter how small the exposure is, it is dangerous if it’s every day. UVB, like UVA, can deplete the Vitamin A in your skin. Unlike UVA, UVB light causes DNA damage directly. It awakens the DNA molecules in the skin cells, causing a modification on the DNA’s growing strand. This is a mutation that is commonly found in most skin cancer cases. UVB also causes collagen damage, albeit slower than UVA.
UVC is the least penetrating since the outermost portion of your skin, the epidermis, is made of dead cells. This portion protects you from UVC. UVC is quite damaging to living cells and has burning effects.
The best that you can do to combat these culprits is to wear sun block/sunscreen every day. The higher the SPF (Sun Protection Factor), the better. Experts suggest wearing sun block/ sunscreen with at least SPF 15 for everyday use. However, if you are at the beach, or biking, or hiking, your sun block should have a minimum of SPF 30. It’s like having 15 layers of skin every day or 30 layers of skin when you are heavily exposed to the sun.
Don’t think that if there’s no sun you can steer clear from UV damage. Wear sunblock EVEN IF there is no sun. Remember that the stronger UV rays can penetrate through the clouds and these can still damage your skin. These are the rays that you should protect yourself from. Also, some bulbs contain UV rays, albeit weaker. So even if you’re just indoors, it’s still advised to wear sunblock.
There. That is just everything you need to fight aging. Remember to keep the principles handy. First, learn about your enemy and then arm yourself. It’s the “art of war”…of beauty war.