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Is the sun making you age faster?

Shahnaz Husain

Ageing is a natural process. It’s something that happens to all of us starting the day we’re born. But, have you ever wondered why some people look much older than they are while others seem ageless?

Besides the genetic lottery, there’s something bigger at play in the world of how our skin ages.  Sun exposure contributes to 90% of the visible signs of ageing which is termed as Photoaging.

Photoaging is also called sun damage, or solar damage and photodamage.

Photoaging  also called extrinsic aging refers to premature aging of your skin caused by light exposure. This can also include visible (HEV) and infrared light emitted from phones or computers which can be seen by the human eye.

Photoaging is caused when  UV radiation, which is made up of UVA and UVB rays hits skin unprotected by sunscreen, causing DNA changes at a cellular level. In general, UVB rays burn, while UVA rays age the skin.

Photoaging appears on the most visible parts of the body — face, neck, and back of the hand. These areas often receive significant sun exposure. In women, the exposed upper chest is another area where photoaging is seen.  Exposure to harmful UV rays often occurs unexpectedly, like while in a vehicle or when it’s cloudy.

One of the most effective ways to prevent photoaging is by protecting your skin from harmful UV radiation. Sun protection methods include wearing sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30,  which can shield skin from both UVA and UVB rays,  accessories like sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats, and remaining indoors during peak sun hours. Some sunscreens now contain DNA repair enzymes that help undo previous damage by using nearby undamaged DNA to fix the area.  These products can enhance anti-aging regimens.

Most of the damage we see in older adults is the cumulative damage from childhood and young adult years. The earlier someone starts using good sun protection, the better their skin will age. More than 15 minutes of direct sunlight is not recommended for the skin. UV radiation tends to be strongest between 10?a.m. and 2?p.m. during summer and in areas with a higher altitude. Avoid going outside during peak UV hours typically between 10 AM-2 PM. Sit under umbrellas and in the shade when possible.

Using Antioxidants to Protect Your Skin

Antioxidants are used extensively in over-the-counter skincare products and cosmeceuticals. Antioxidants are powerful compounds that neutralize free radicals and help protect your skin from UV damage.  Some commonly used antioxidants in skincare products include vitamins C and E, Niacinamide, and green tea extract. However, the most abundant Trusted Source of antioxidants in the skin is vitamin C.

 Vitamin C helps stimulate collagen production and is the best antioxidant for fading dark marks. Niacinamide known as vitamin B3 is a wonder product for fading dark spots and hyperpigmentation.   Incorporating these ingredients into your daily skincare routine can help boost your skin's natural defenses against photoaging.

Antioxidants are present in a wide range of foods such as pomegranates, apples, lemons, and dried fruits, vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, chilis, olives, beets,  peppers, and berries, such as gooseberries, bilberries, blackberries, and blueberries.  Antioxidants may be valuable in skin care, both topically and orally. However, it is not advisable to use large doses for prolonged periods without seeking medical advice, as this may cause adverse effects. Studies suggest that skincare products containing several different antioxidant ingredients offer higher antioxidant activity and are therefore more effective

Retinol:  Retinoids are compounds that include Vitamin A and its derivatives. Vitamin A is used by the body in many ways beyond skincare: to improve vision, regulate cell proliferation and differentiation, grow bone tissue, and activate immune function and tumour suppressor genes.

Retinol is arguably the most effective over-the-counter (OTC) ingredient for reducing fine lines and wrinkles.   Including retinoids will boost new cell production, smooth the skin, and slow down collagen wear and tear every day. You can start retinoids once you age 40  and onwards but consult a dermatologist before adding them to your skincare routine.

Chemical peels: In a chemical peel, a chemical liquid, such as trichloroacetic acid or glycolic acid, is applied to your skin. Peels remove brown spots and actinic keratoses and improve the tone and texture of photoaged skin so new skin comes to the surface and treats fine lines and wrinkles.  Although superficial chemical peels can be used for early signs of photoaging, medium-depth, and deep peels are necessary when the extent of photoaging is significantly more severe.

Additionally, lifestyle factors such as yoga, meditation, and physical exercise can also play a role in the prevention and treatment of photoaging. Understanding the various options available for treating and preventing photoaging is an important step in developing a comprehensive skincare routine that can help to maintain the health and appearance of the skin.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi