HELLO SUN­SHINE

We’re more con­scious of well­ness and tak­ing care of our bod­ies then ever, so make sure that ap­plies to your sum­mer sk­in­care too, says Michaela Wil­liams

Friday - - Beauty -

Ask any der­ma­tol­o­gist his or her num­ber one anti-age­ing sk­in­care tip, and with­out hes­i­ta­tion the an­swer will be ex­actly the same from all of them: wear sun­screen. Yet many of us in the UAE, the land of year-round sun and lounger-dot­ted beaches, are still not pay­ing heed, with in­ci­dences of skin can­cer on the rise. While we know it’s a bore, re­mem­ber­ing to slip, slop, and slap ev­ery time we ven­ture out­side, the pos­i­tive re­turns in sk­in­care health far out­weigh the few min­utes spent ap­ply­ing a pro­tec­tive lo­tion.

Thank­fully, the smelly, thick creams and brightly-coloured zincs of our child­hoods have been re­placed with sci­en­tif­i­cally proven prod­ucts, easy-to-wear for­mu­las, and – dare we say – some­what chic pack­ag­ing and so­phis­ti­cated brand­ing that make sun­screen ap­pli­ca­tion a plea­sure rather than a messy chore.

WHAT’S THE DAM­AGE?

Dr Doris Day, a New York-based der­ma­tol­o­gist who has been treat­ing sun-dam­aged skin for over 20 years and reg­u­larly sees pa­tients from the UAE, says that it’s never too early or too late to start pro­tect­ing your skin.

While a study by Amer­i­can sk­in­care brand Mu­rad sug­gests that your skin is more sus­cep­ti­ble to sun dam­age early in life and, even worse, that just five se­vere sun­burns be­fore the age of 18 can dou­ble your risk of de­vel­op­ing melanoma skin can­cer later on, there’s still a lot that can be done to prevent the ef­fects of sun ex­po­sure at any age.

So, what ex­actly is so aw­ful about a lit­tle tanned glow? We hear you – es­pe­cially the sun-starved ex­pats. Dr Day says that even just few hours in the sun can cause a mul­ti­tude of is­sues for skin health.

‘There is a break­down of col­la­gen and in­crease in pro­duc­tion of melanin as well as other changes that are dam­ag­ing to the skin,’ she says. ‘The dam­age can take from years to decades to show – as wrin­kles, un­even skin tone, blotch­i­ness and in­creased red­ness.’

And as for that ‘healthy’ tan? Dr Day says it’s far from a sign of health. ‘The sim­plest way to know you’ve dam­aged your skin is to see a sun tan... a tan is a sign of dam­age to your skin,’ she says.

‘Your skin makes the tan in re­sponse to stress and it’s a de­fen­sive move to pro­tect your skin from break­down, age­ing and skin can­cer.’

Dr Irena Ivanovska, spe­cial­ist der­ma­tol­o­gist at Euromed Clinic Cen­tre, agrees that the sun’s rays can se­ri­ously in­jure skin. ‘The long-term ef­fects of UV light are dam­age to the fi­bres in the skin called elastin,’ she ex­plains. ‘When these fi­bres break down, the skin be­gins to sag, stretch, and lose its abil­ity to go back into place af­ter stretch­ing. The skin also bruises and tears more eas­ily, thus tak­ing longer to heal.’

RAYS OF LIGHT

You may have heard of ul­tra­vi­o­let rays be­fore, but are you aware of the spe­cific dam­age they can in­flict on un­pro­tected skin? Present even on cloudy or over­cast days, UVA rays are re­spon­si­ble for age spots, freck­les, rough tex­ture, fine lines and wrin­kles, dull­ness, discolouration, and pig­men­ta­tion. How­ever, it’s the nasty UVB rays that are deadly, caus­ing moles and marks that can de­velop into can­cer­ous me­lanomas.

It gets worse: UVA and UVB rays are not the only in­tru­sive light tar­get­ing sun-seek­ers. Stud­ies have also dis­cov­ered that 50 per cent of the sun’s rays are made up of in­frared-A (IR-A) light. While this type of light has been linked to free rad­i­cal formation in skin cells and caus­ing early age­ing, there still isn’t a lot of in­for­ma­tion on IR-As, with most sun­screens not yet con­tain­ing spe­cific IR-A pro­tec­tion. Ad­di­tional re­search released in 2016 also in­tro­duced a new spec­trum known as high en­ergy vis­i­ble light (HEVL), which sci­en­tists hy­poth­e­sise is re­spon­si­ble for pig­men­ta­tion in darker skin, which of­ten ap­pears as larg­erthan-av­er­age moles or stretches of flat pig­men­ta­tion.

Avoid­ing ex­po­sure to these harm­ful rays is key to keep­ing the age­ing process at bay, says Re­becca Tre­ston, founder of Re­becca Tre­ston Aes­thet­ics at Euromed Clinic Cen­tre. ‘Sun dam­age is caused by the ac­cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect of UV rays,’ she says, not­ing that the

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