The thing that differentiates earth from other planets is the presence of the sun at the most optimum distance; too close and it would have been too hot for life to take root, too far and it would have been too cold to live. Sun is the reason that life sprouted on earth and sun is the reason life will remain. Not only is it essential for the plants to grow, it is responsible for every single process taking place on the face of the earth. For human physiology, sunlight is essential to regulate the sleep cycle, stimulate the synthesis of vitamin D and enhance the feeling of well-being. But there’s also a downside of the exposure to too much sun; it can lead to the formation of wrinkles, pigmentation and is also a cause of skin cancer. In fact, sunlight is the biggest culprit of visible skin ageing.For starters, you should consume food rich in antioxidants which are found in raw fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants reduce the damage caused by the UV rays. Antioxidants are generally good for the skin and delay the process of ageing by reducing the collagen and elastin breakdown. Another thing you will have to do is to quit smoking, smoking exaggerates the effect of the sun damage and speeds up the process of ageing even more.
How sunlight affects our skin?
Every time the sunlight strikes your skin, it stimulates the melanin production. Normally we hate melanin because we believe that it is the cause of odd pigmentation on our skin. It is, but melanin is the reason we don’t get skin cancer. Melanin scatters the harmful UVA and UVB rays and absorbs them, rendering them useless. The higher the rate of exposure to the sun, the higher will be the melanin production which causes the skin to darken. But a tan can only protect you so much. Over time, the UVA and UVB rays weaken the dermis and stimulate collagen and elastin collapse, leading to the wrinkle formation. UVA and UVB rays also cause hyperpigmentation, known as brown spots, and skin cancer.
Ways to protect your skin from the sun:
1. Wear sunscreen:
Wearing sunscreen is essential to protect your skin from the harmful sun rays. You should use sunscreen every time you step out of your house. The key is to use sunscreen with high SPF (Sun Protecting Factor). SPF refers to the length of time the sunscreen protects the skin from burning. It is calculated by the number of minutes after which your skin starts to burn multiplied by the SPF; for example, if your skin starts to burn after 10 minutes and you are applying a sunscreen of 15 SPF, it will protect your skin for 2.5 hours. However, in reality, the sunscreens aren’t as effective as SPF indicates. If you are swimming, sweating, or wiping your face with the towel again and again, the sunscreen will dissipate from your skin. You have to reapply the sunscreen after every 2 hours or more if your skin is in constant contact with water or any abrasive surface. You should buy broad-spectrum sunscreen which protects from UVA and UVB both. Choose a product which has zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzone. There is a variety of sunscreens available for different skin types.
Foundations and face powders though usually contain titanium dioxide, but they are not an optimum protection from the sun. You have to use sunscreen below your makeup. Apply sunscreen around 20 minutes before you step out to give it time to set and work.
2. Wear a hat:
A hat protects the top of the heat from the sun rays because you can’t apply sunscreen over there. It also offers protection for your face and neck.
3. Stay in shade:
If you are outdoor or on the beach, stay in the shade as much as possible. Use sun umbrellas and hand umbrellas. Though they don’t provide full protection, they do offer a semblance of cover from the harmful rays.
4. Wear UPF t-shirts:
Shirts made up of UPF (ultraviolet protecting factor) about 98% of the sun rays from reaching the skin of the body. Wear loose shirts made up of dark colours to protect most from the rays.
5. Stay away from the reflective surfaces:
Reflective surfaces such as water, snow and sand reflect as much as 85% of the sun rays. This is the reason people burn more easily at the beach or during ski trips. If you can’t avoid these places then wear optimum sunscreen and don’t forget to wear a hat to protect yourself further.