What is a tan?
A tan is the body producing melanin to protect us from damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays. Melanocytes are distributed throughout the dermis and by producing pigment cells (melanin) skin appearance darkens, indicating skin has been damaged and is attempting to prevent further injury.
Why are UV rays damaging?
UV rays are part of the light spectrum which is invisible to humans and is produced by sun rays and strong UV lightbulbs such as those in tanning beds. UVA & UVB radiation from the sun can penetrate the ozone layer and therefore those are the rays we should protect ourselves from outdoors, and tanning bed use is strongly discouraged as these harmful rays are amplified in that setting.
UVA is associated with accelerated skin aging as it penetrates deep into the dermis and damages collagen and elastin causing skin sagging, coarse wrinkle formation, hyperpigmentation and more worryingly, abnormal cell production due to oxidative stress. This is concerning as over time, more abnormal cells develop, and the body may fail to combat them with age, which leads to precancerous cell mutations and eventually skin cancer.
UVB radiation does not penetrate as deeply as UVA but is more strongly irradiating. UVB damages the nucleus of cells in the epidermis, causing direct damage to DNA, producing mutations. DNA repair enzymes exist in the body, but these enzymes also become less effective as we age, again leaving us at risk of developing precancerous cells and of potentially fatal skin cancers. This reduced natural protection with ageing is the reason many skin cancers are commoner in older people despite the damage occurring many years prior to diagnosis.
As we are exposed to both UVA & UVB even on cloudy days, it is important to protect our skin from the potentially catastrophic damage they can cause.
How do I protect my skin?
Use Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or greater with high UVA protection daily. By doing this you are shielding your exposed skin from UV damage giving it the best chance at being healthy throughout your lifetime. The higher the SPF you use, the more protected you will be, and as most people do not apply SPF generously enough, the higher the UV protection the better.
There are many affordable, high quality, well formulated sun creams available on the market which leave no white-cast. The best one for you? Whichever one you know you will use every day.
Can sun damage be reversed?
It is never too late to start protecting your skin with SPF 30+ (can be used instead of moisturiser if layering feels too thick) but there are ways to help sun damaged skin heal. Retinoids are ingredients which increase cell turnover and can help renew sun damaged and precancerous skin cells, but means tested retinoids are only available via prescription in the UK.
Chemical Peels are an excellent way of exfoliating top skin layers and encouraging cell turnover with repeated use and instant results, so are great for improving sun damaged skin with fine lines, wrinkles and dyspigmentation - no wonder they are our most popular treatment!
Contact email@example.com for more information regarding our array of peels and facial treatments for sun damaged skin. If you have any further concerns regarding your skin such as abnormal moles, please visit your GP or dermatologist for further advice.