Head for cover: Winter’s Damaging Rays that Still Burn Bright

Head for cover: Winter’s Damaging Rays that Still Burn Bright

Head for cover: Winter’s Damaging Rays that Still Burn Bright

As you sort through your bathroom skincare cupboard and ditch summer’s near-empty sunscreen, think of that time you went hiking, and all at once, the sun came out. Sudden panic for the SPF, and not a tube to be had. Drama! Did you consider the UVA rays on that day as your feet hit the trail? Those always-there rays hang around, whether delicious summer weather or a gloomy, cloudy day. In fact, UVA – like your boyfriend’s varsity friend “Lobster” – will be with you year-round, able to penetrate clouds and fog, and even glass. In other words, sunscreen is a 365-day commitment. And it isn’t just UVA that are the rays to watch out for; many different ones can affect the skin. Before you go into hermit mode, here’s a simple guide on protecting your complexion against the damage.

Days in the Sun

It’s normal to think it’s only the sun’s fault our skins suffer from UV rays. You need full-spectrum protection, guarding your skin against UVA and UVB rays. Remember UVB are the ones that cause you to burn, and UVA puts your skin at risk of ageing, and they’re proven to contribute to the development of skin cancer. They might operate differently, but they’re both skin bullies. Without ongoing sun protection from UVA and UVB, your skin’s DNA will be damaged at a cellular level. Translation? Genetic defects or mutations can mean skin cancers, premature ageing and even eye damage. And who wants to see a specialist doctor about cataracts or eyelid cancers? 

The Problem with Hidden Rays

Next up is your ever-devoted relationship with your digital screens. And it is near impossible not to be looking at your phone these days. The light from devices is known as blue light, and it too messes with your youth. It’s a real collagen destroyer, keeping you from that ageless complexion you’re chasing. Think of it this way: blue light has a short wavelength like the sun’s UV rays. But when high amounts of blue light are emitted (say from computers and phones), it can damage deep layers of the skin and cause premature ageing, pigmentation and even skin cancer. As with that UVA that can hit your skin through your glass windows, a day of Netflix and chill means sunscreen is necessary. To up protection and help with healing, look for anti-oxidant rich products dosed with green tea, vitamin C, ferulic acid, blue algae, and pomegranate.

UVC: A Light That Could Make All the Difference

Even the most cautious SPF warrior can’t avoid the sun altogether. Driving, walking the dog, and the quick dash to the shops add to incidental exposure. And that’s just life. What’s so not ok is choosing to seek out the most high energy type of UV, UVC rays. Fortunately, mother nature ensures these react with ozone high in our atmosphere and don’t reach the ground. But of course, man always makes a plan. You’ll find UVC rays in arc welding torches, mercury lamps, and UV sanitizing bulbs used to kill bacteria. Never going to get your welding gloves on? Sure, but have you been past a tanning bed lately? While many claims to not use this type of harmful UV, do your own stringent research. Outlawed in countries like Australia, tanning beds come with serious side effects. Not only are the links to skin cancers much higher, but the penetration of UVA rays deep into the skin is reported to be connected to higher rates of leukaemia and lymphoma. 

When in doubt, wear sunscreen. It’s impossible to live without WhatsApp or that sanity walk after work. And as the cold weather sets in, it’s going to be even better for your mood to get out into the fresh air and move. Just remember the rays, and always SPF up.  

Sharon Izak Elaine
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