When you’re out enjoying the sunshine, you probably don’t realize what’s going on deep within your skin. The ultraviolet radiation that penetrates your skin’s cells in the form of long-wave A rays and short-wave B rays is invisible to you, because they’re both shorter than visible light.
However, you can eventually see the effects they manifest. In fact, scientists estimate that as much as 90 percent of skin aging is caused by exposure to the sun (1). Even more concerning is that the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are cumulative, adding up throughout your lifetime (2).
The UVB rays are what you might be most familiar with, for example. These are your “burning” rays, which are most likely to cause skin reddening and sunburn. UVB rays mainly cause damage to cells of the epidermis nearest to the surface. While UVB rays can damage skin year-round, summer is when they are most intense. UVB rays can also bounce off reflective surfaces like water, but are not strong enough to penetrate glass to any appreciable degree.
UVA rays are what we’re exposed to most of the time. Not only can UVA rays penetrate clouds and glass year-round, but they can also penetrate deep within your skin. The damage from UVA rays is what accounts for the major part of skin aging and wrinkling.
Block Out Harmful Rays With a Mineral Sunscreen
In addition to wearing protective clothing and limiting your time outdoors during the brightest hours of the day, wearing sunscreen daily is one of the most effective ways to protect your skin. Using sunscreen every day, with a minimum SPF of 15 can lead to 24 percent less skin aging compared to those who don’t use sunscreen regularly (3). It’s easy to remember sunscreen on bright, sunny days when you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors. Remember, even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UVA rays can penetrate skin (4). That’s why it’s important to protect your skin with a quality sunscreen every day, year-round.
Sunscreen is an effective way to prevent premature aging of your skin, but not all sunscreen is equally effective. Your sunscreen should offer protection from both UVB and UVA rays. Many chemical sunscreens provide good protection from UVB rays, but not UVA rays. Sunscreens that protect against UVA rays are harder to find. The reason is that chemical sunscreens are so prevalent and cheap in the marketplace. Regardless of how many different chemicals are used, no chemical sunscreen can fully block all UVA rays.
The only UV blocking sunscreen product is one that uses natural minerals. For example, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two natural minerals that are effective at blocking both UVA and UVB rays. A product such as Isa SunGuard™, for example, includes both minerals to provide broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection.
Get Your Healthy Glow and Fight UV Damage With Nutrition
Avoiding excess time in the sun, wearing sun-protective clothing, and consistently using a quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen are your most important practices to protect your skin from damaging UV rays. But the right nutrition can make these strategies even more effective.
Enough dietary vitamin C and omega-3s, for example, help protect skin through reducing the impact of UV-related stress on skin. By neutralizing free radicals caused by UV radiation, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids help fight oxidative stress within your skin (5).
Other nutrients not only defend against UV rays, but can also have the added advantage of helping to give you that “radiant glow” of a healthy complexion. For example, the amount of beta-carotene—the plant pigment found in carrots and spinach—in your diet is reflected in the amount of this nutrient present in the deep layers of your skin (6). While the main function of beta-carotene is conversion to vitamin A, it’s also a skin-loving nutrient that helps to protect from harmful UV rays and gives your skin a warm, sun-kissed glow without any of the damaging effects of a suntan.
Your best source of skin nutrition is a healthful diet rich in fruits and vegetables because of their natural content of antioxidant phytochemicals. Supplementing a healthy diet with key nutrients like omega-3s, vitamin C, and beta-carotene—as found in Ageless Essentials™ Daily Pack—can also help protect your skin against UVA rays over a lifetime.
While the effects of sun damage are cumulative, we actually receive most of our lifetime exposure to UV rays as adults (2). This means it’s never too late to start protecting your skin.
- Taylor CR, Stern RS, Leyden JJ, Gilchrest BA. Photoaging/photodamage and photoprotection. J Am Acad Dermatol 1990; 22:1-15.
- Godar DE, Urbach F, Gasparro FP, Van der Leun JC. UV doses of young adults. Photochem Photobiol 2003; 77(4):453-457.
- Hughes MCB, Williams GM, Baker P, Green AC. Sunscreen and prevention of skin aging: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med 2013; 158 (11):781-790.
- Global Solar UV Index. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/uv/publications/en/UVIGuide.pdf.
- Sies H, Stahl W. Nutritional protection against skin damage from sunlight. Ann Rev Nutr. 2004;24:173-200.
- Pezdirc K, Hutchesson MJ, Whitehead R, Ozakinci G, Perrett D, Collins CE. Fruit, Vegetable and Dietary Carotenoid Intakes Explain Variation in Skin-Color in Young Caucasian Women: A Cross-Sectional Study. Nutrients. 2015;7:5800-5815.
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