SUNSCREEN AND AGING
Scientists and dermatologists have long believed that broad spectrum sunscreen protection could prevent the cellular skin damage and premature aging caused by chronic exposure to the sun. Although there has been significant indirect evidence suggesting that sunscreen has anti-aging benefits, a study1 recently published in the American College of Physicians’ Annals of Internal Medicine is the first clinical human trial to conclusively show that sunscreen can help prevent photoaging.
Photoaging refers to the damage that is done to the skin from prolonged exposure over a person’s lifetime to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In the fore-mentioned study, daily sunscreen users had no detectable increase in photoaging after four and a half years.
Many of the same changes in the skin that occur naturally as we get older are accelerated by UV exposure. The ultraviolet rays that affect the skin are both the shorter UVB rays and the longer UVA rays. UVA rays cause aging by penetrating deep into the skin, breaking down the skin’s supporting structure, elastin and collagen. Your skin can actually become thinner and loses its elasticity. On your face, sun damage leads to wrinkles, rough patches, discoloration and superficial blood vessels.
Apply a “broad spectrum” sunscreen, such as the DermaSpaRx Sun Protection Systems, with an SPF of at least 30, fifteen minutes before heading outdoors. Generously cover all exposed areas and re-apply every two hours. The most effective sun blocks contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide- the only two ingredients that provide both UVA and UVB protection and are gentle enough for everyday use.
Sun damage accumulates throughout your life- your skin never forgets a sun burn. Those of us over 25 have done most of the damage already. In fact, almost 25% of our total lifetime sun exposure occurs by age 18. Remember to teach children how to stay safe in the sun by always wearing sunscreen and seeking shade when possible, even if they are not with you.
1 Annals of Internal Medicine (2013, June 4, volume 158, pages 781-790). Sunscreen and Prevention of Skin Aging Retrieved from http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1691732