Although almost all of us feel instant joy at the first rays of the sun, the same sun causes a lot of damage to our skin. We are often unaware of how great the consequences of that sun damage can be. We spend hours in the sun with our winter skin to get that nice tan as quickly and as long as possible. But is that tan really worth the sun damage to the skin?
What do the sun’s rays do to the skin?
Although this article is mainly about the damage the sun causes to our skin, sunlight also has many positive effects:
- It promotes the production of Vitamin D
Sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D! Vitamin D is important for good resistance, strong bones and teeth, is good for the muscles and has a positive influence on our immune system. Every day, 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands and face is enough to reap the vitamin D-enhancing benefits of the sun.
- It lifts the mood
Exposure to sunlight (in moderation) helps to improve your mood. Sunlight actually increases the level of serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin is also known as the ‘happiness hormone’. Moreover, sunlight reduces the risk of depression in people with seasonal depression.
- It improves sleep
The more you are exposed to daylight, the more melatonin you produce at night. This hormone – also known as the sleep hormone – affects our sleep-wake rhythm. It makes us sleepy when it gets dark. It also affects the quality of our sleep itself.
So the sun is certainly very important, but besides these positive effects, sunlight is also the number one cause of skin cancer and skin ageing! Before we look at this in more detail, it is important to know the difference between the sun’s different rays.
UVA and UVB rays
Sunlight consists partly of ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB. In addition, sunlight also contains infrared rays, which make the sun feel nice and warm.
UVA: A stands for Aging
UVA rays reach the deeper layers of the skin and are responsible for skin ageing such as wrinkles, sagging skin and pigmentation. UVA rays are present all day, in summer as well as in winter and they reach the skin through clouds and glass. Of the ultraviolet rays present, 95% are UVA rays.
UVB: B stands for Burning
UVB radiation causes your skin to tan, but can also cause it to burn. In the upper layers of the skin are the melanocytes (important skin cells). These melanocytes produce melanin (pigment). Melanin ensures the colour of the skin. The larger the melanocytes, the more pigment is given off and the browner the skin. The production of melanin increases after exposure to UVB rays. The melanocytes then start to produce more melanin (pigment) and, like a kind of defence army, come to the surface of the skin. Because the pigment granules are coloured brown, your skin takes on a tan colour. So this tan is actually your natural sunscreen.
The intensity of UVB radiation varies according to the season and is stronger in summer than in winter. The percentage of UVA rays, on the other hand, varies a lot less per season and therefore the risks associated with UVA rays remain present throughout the year, even on a cloudy day.
The harmful UV rays in sunlight can do a lot of damage to the skin. Skin cancer is perhaps the most well-known negative effect of sunlight, but did you know that the sun can damage your skin in more ways than one?
A burned skin
Excessive and unprotected exposure to UVB rays can cause the skin to burn. This depends on the skin type; light skin burns faster than dark skin. This is because light skin produces less pigment and is therefore naturally less well protected. The UVB radiation in sunlight damages the DNA in the skin cells when exposed in excess. The body wants to repair this damage and clean up the damaged cells.
The body does this by producing certain substances. This triggers an inflammatory reaction and the blood vessels widen, allowing more blood to flow to the burnt area. This is how the cells try to extinguish the fire, so to speak, and this causes your skin to turn red, to swell and to feel painful. Every time your skin burns, your DNA is irreparably damaged.
Pigmentation spots occur because more melanin (pigment) is produced locally in the skin. When the pigment cells in the skin become confused, the cells can start to produce too much pigment. This disruption can cause dark spots to appear on your skin: pigment spots.
Actinic keratoses (keratosis actinica) are small, rough spots on the skin, often with a light brown colour. Actinic means caused by sunlight and keratosis is the term for a cornification disorder of the skin. Actinic keratoses occur because the hereditary material (DNA) in the skin cells has been damaged by long-term exposure of the skin to sunlight. As a result, the cell can no longer divide and grow in a normal way and an abnormal cornification (keratosis) occurs on the surface of the skin. This condition is considered a pre-stage of skin cancer.
The well-known risk factor for skin cancer is too much UV radiation. Every time your skin burns, it irreparably damages your DNA. The more often you burn, the greater the risk of skin cancer. Integraal Kankercentrum Nederland (IKNL) released a report in 2019 about the shocking number of 70,000 new patients with skin cancer per year. IKNl: “Of all the new cancer patients in the Netherlands, 52% are skin cancers. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the Netherlands and this is not necessary. By seeking shade in time, wearing a hat and applying the right amount of sun cream, we can largely prevent skin cancer.”
Faster skin ageing caused by the sun
Above, we have discussed various forms of sun damage to the skin. However, we have forgotten an important type of sun damage to the skin: wrinkles, sagging and faster skin ageing! Wrinkles from the sun? Yes, they are! In fact, the sun is responsible for 80% of skin ageing. It has everything to do with collagen.
UVA rays in sunlight penetrate deeper into the skin layers. There, UVA rays affect our collagen. The collagen fibres break down and lose their elasticity. In addition, UV rays also deteriorate the production of new type 1 collagen in the skin. When collagen decreases in the skin, the skin slackens and eventually wrinkles.
The ultraviolet rays in sunlight can damage the skin right down to the cell nucleus, where our DNA is located. A cell with damaged DNA can no longer function properly. This has a negative impact on the skin’s repair mechanism, resulting in premature skin ageing.
Nice tan, but is it worth the extra wrinkles?
How can you repair and prevent sun damage to the skin?
Prevention is certainly better than cure, especially when it comes to sun damage to the skin. It is therefore important to sunbathe sensibly. This is how you tan sensibly:
- Avoid the sun between 11:00 and 15:00, especially in summer! Try to find some shade then.
- Always use SPF! The sun shines all day except at night, which means that the UV rays are harmful even on a cloudy day. Always use at least SPF 30 and apply several times a day.
- If you have SPF in your day cream, apply it every two hours. If you apply your day cream in the morning, it will no longer protect your skin at noon.
- Wear UV-resistant clothing and try to cover your face as much as possible when sunbathing.
- Always nourish your skin after sunbathing with a moisturising cream or lotion.
Besides prevention, it is also important to restore the skin after sunbathing. Skin for Skin products can help with this.
- Strengthen your collagen fibres, especially during the summer! With the Skin for Skin collagen supplement, you deliver new building blocks to the skin every day and keep your collagen levels up. Our collagen supplement with vitamin C helps to strengthen the skin from within and supports the skin’s condition.
- Regularly drinking green tea and eating foods rich in flavonoids (red and purple fruits) can help prevent or reduce DNA damage caused by UV light. Our Berry Teablend contains green tea and red and black berries, also delicious as an iced tea when sunbathing.
- Skin that is exposed to a lot of sun often feels drier and looks dull. This is because the moisture balance of the skin is disturbed. Too much moisture can evaporate from the skin, causing it to dry out. Give your skin a hydration boost with our delicious sheet masks. The masks are highly hydrating and restore the moisture balance of the skin, making your skin healthy again in no time!
The summer essentials box
To properly protect your skin from sun damage, we have put together a box with our essential products that you will need this summer for your skin. This box contains:
- The Skin for Skin collagen supplement, to strengthen collagen fibres and prevent premature skin ageing.
- Skin for Skin’s fresh teablends, packed with green tea, black and red berries and antioxidants that can help repair DNA damage caused by UV light.
- Skin for Skin sheet masks to restore the moisture balance in the skin and to refresh the skin after a day of sunbathing!
- A luxurious beach bag in the colours ‘pink’ or ‘terracotta’ so you can easily take these Skin for Skin essentials with you.
Enjoy your summer without having to worry about your skin with the Skin for Skin Essentials! This beautiful box is limited edition and can be bought here!