Recent articles ponder the possibility that UVB rays could be even more damaging than UVA rays. UVC rays have always held a bad reputation as the cancer causing burning rays. UVA has held the responsibility for DNA damage causing hyper pigmentation and premature aging of the skin. But UVB is now being blamed as well. Science Daily’s website posted an article that explains the possible damage created by UVB rays:
Let’s break this down for a moment:
Ultraviolet Rays from the sun are known to be both beneficial and harmful. Beneficial because they aid in Vitamin D production and help release certain neurotransmitters in the brain that keep us happy. It has been recorded that depression is higher in areas that receive the least amount of sun annually.
So yes, we do need some sun exposure.
However, UV rays are harmful in that they can easily stimulate the production of free radicals that can damage DNA in the cells. Our natural levels of antioxidants are deleted fairly quickly to neutralize these free radicals, skin proteins called melanin are produced to protect from UV radiation. This causes skin to tan but also causes it to hyper-pigment or freckle. Overexposure to the sun can lead to burning, causing undue stress on the skin. The DNA damage from prolonged sun overexposure leads to premature wrinkling and discoloring of the skin, and can also lead to skin cancers.
It is possible to gain all the benefits of the sun while protecting yourself from the harm of overexposure. Using a natural sun block is vital when you plan to be out in the sun for longer than 15 minutes or during the early or late afternoon. I differ on this from many other estheticians. My philosophy is to get some sun – less than 15 minutes every day or every other day – in order to boost Vitamin D levels and mood. After that, wear sun block almost religiously. This doesn’t necessarily mean I want you to lay out every morning before work. It means, take your tea or coffee and sit outside to drink it and read the paper, or get a bit of sun during your morning or evening walk with your dog.
As far as sunscreens are concerned – I am not a fan. Sunscreens are chemical concoctions designed to translate UV rays into heat as they enter your skin. Too much heat may cause free radical damage and undue stress on the body.
You can still get a tan with sunscreen – which means your skin is reacting to stress from UV rays by producing melanin. Dont be fooled by high SPF numbers and fancy technology. Every sunscreen protects the same amount – the higher SPFs just protect for longer periods of time (and they still need to be reapplied every few hours.) Besides, many of the synthetic sunscreens have not been tested for long-term safety and some have recently received less than ideal safety marks. Sun blocks do just that – they BLOCK UV rays by reflecting them away from the skin. Sun blocks are natural minerals like zinc and titanium dioxide. Zinc is my personal favorite because it also contains anti-inflammatory properties that the skin loves. Sunblock does needs to be reapplied every two hours and an SPF of 40 or less (depending on skin’s sensitivity and pigment levels) is all you need.
Here’s a great article on sunscreens for further reading:
If you apply before work, you need to bring some with you to reapply before going outdoors for lunch, errands or travel (which is why I love crushed mineral makeup or translucent crushed mineral powders – they are much easier to apply over make-up for us ladies!)
I know some professionals tell their clients and patients to wear sunscreen or sunblock even if they are going to be indoors…but I don’t agree. If you are going to be in the car, on a train or a plane near the window, or outside – yes, apply sun block. Unless your office or home uses tanning bulbs for light, you are probably safe without sunblock or an umbrella. Eco-friendly fluorescent bulbs do give off some UV radiation, but nowhere near enough to require any form of sun protection.
If you live in an area that gets sunlight – and we all do to some extent – you are getting UV radiation. The UV Rays we need for vitamin D production are quickly absorbed (most readily on the upper back and shoulders.) 15 minutes or so of morning or evening sun are all you need and as the sun’s rays are not as intense, the threat of burn or damage is lower. You will receive the “mood” benefits from sunlight just being outside in it. The fresh air and warmth you feel from the sun is enough to brighten you right up! After that wear sunblock and reapply every two hours or as needed.
PS. Forget tanning beds – there is no such thing as safe artificial UV radiation. Regular exposure to tanning bulbs has recently been linked to cancer. If you absolutely need some color, stick with a spray tan, just don’t get too carried away.
*this information is not intended to replace medical recommendations or treatment. It is for educational and informational purposes only.