As the days grow longer and the summer stretches ahead of us, we find ourselves spending longer in the sun. Whilst sunlight can have a positive effect on our health and wellbeing, prolonged exposure can compromise the quality and texture of our skin.
As a form of non-visible light, ultraviolet is a form of radiation. Therefore, it is important to cultivate healthy practices that protect against UV damage. In consultation with Dr. Debra Jaliman, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology, we discuss external and internal measures that support a wholistic approach to sun protection.
UV and its effects
There are numerous beneficial effects of UV light that are essential to healthy cell and body function. Ultraviolet radiation is essential in aiding the production of vitamin D. This in turn, provides vital support for a number of bodily functions. This includes regulating cell growth, immune functions and metabolic control.
However, prolonged radiation can result in acute wear and tear on the skin. This can be seen in uneven pigmentation, brown spots, broken blood vessels, and the breakdown of collagen and elastic tissue that, in turn, leads to sagging skin.
UVA & UVB
The sun emits a full spectrum of UV radiation that can be split into UV-A, B and C waves. UV-A and B play an important role in conditions like skin aging, eye damage and skin cancers.
As the first line of defence against the sun’s ultraviolet rays, it is important to invest in a sunscreen that carries both UVA and UVB protection. Dr. Jaliman explains, ‘It is important to use a broad spectrum SPF every day because ultraviolet light penetrates through the clouds. This light causes a toxic reaction in the skin. The energy from UV radiation damages our DNA, proteins and enzymes in our skin. It dilates our blood vessels and releases inflammatory cells in the skin. When you see the skin peel, that’s because of the destroyed cells and the DNA damage after a sunburn”.
Whilst applying sun protection to our skin remains our primary defence against the damaging effects of UV exposure, a large part of strengthening natural sun protection relies of diet.
Research has found that certain key nutrients can help build up the skin’s natural defence against the damages of UV radiation and reduce the risk of damage. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet and taking vitamin supplements can help to maintain the skin’s ability to protect itself against sun-related damage and premature ageing.
Dr Debra Jaliman is a world-renowned dermatologist with a private practice on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. For over 25 years, she has taught dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.