Today, with March just a couple of days away, a sheet of snow covers the beautiful crocuses and green shoots of daffodils – those welcoming signs of a bright new season. And yet only a few days ago it really did feel as if spring was tantalising close. The sun had started to make a stronger appearance with warm rays of sunshine hitting our faces for longer as the days lengthen: the feel good factor was certainly kicking in. I have already started to buy ingredients for summer salads, eating lemon cake, making jugs of refreshing juicy drinks with chopped lemon and lime, enjoying the cool fresh breeze from my open balcony doors, airing out the place while I plan the veg garden for the year ahead. It feels good.
But are you really aware of the damage those wondeful rays of sun can do to your skin? Not only the danger of skin cancer, which should never be ignored, but premature aging too. As a beautician, obviously that is high on my agenda!
It’s great getting that vitamin D and soaking up the rays but there is an important factor you must remember as the months get warmer: as we gradually show more and more flesh, your sun protection needs careful consideration as it isn’t always evident what impact the sun is having. While we might feel the heat of UVB rays in the summer months, your skin is exposed to invisible UVA rays in the slightly cooler months too, and these can be extremely damaging. These UVA rays cannot be felt on your skin and yet they penetrate deeper into the skin’s layers than UVB rays can. Please be aware that skin is exposed to UV rays every day, all year round, even on cloudy days. In particular, are you aware that ordinary glass does not filter out harmful UVA rays?
UV rays are free radicles which are unstable molecules. When an unstable molecule hits the skin it then starts to mutate the skin cells. Stress, pollution, and diet can also be free radicles that also do the same thing. There have been studies shown that UV rays speed up the aging process of the skin. UV rays do not directly cause the cancer but the effects it has on the skin, such as damaging the skin cells, can create unstable cells which result in cancer.
Many people expose their skin to the sun for much longer time than is safe. While it is now generally recognised in health institutions that it is good to expose uncovered skin to short periods of sun daily, generally before 11am or after 3pm, views vary considerably on how long a ‘safe time’ is: NICE (National Institute for Health Care Excellence) recommends 10-15 minutes; whilst independent cancer charities such as CANCERactive recommend 30 minutes sunshine daily, albeit still stressing the importance of avoiding midday sun and NEVER burning!
Once you have had a short period of unexposed sun, the good news is that you can then prevent the majority of the rays causing damage by applying the most anti-aging prevention product on the market, sun protection.
By applying a SPF 15 over the areas of your skin exposed to daylight including your face (some make-up even has an SPF 15 protection in it) and the back of your hands, you can help protect you skin from these nasty UVA rays. Have you noticed your face and hands age quicker than any other body part? This is because it is exposed to these UV rays all the time. Again, there is disagreement in main stream health organisations about what factor sun protection is best. Some advise that the higher the factor the better; others suggest that the lower the factor the more UVA protection; and many stress the importance of using a more organic based sun protection.
Owning a salon that offers cruelty free, vegan friendly and organic treatments, in my personal opinion I feel it is important to use a sun protection cream that is more organic based.
So if you are thinking about how you can look your best for that cheeky late spring/early summer garden party,; if you are standing by your kitchen window soaking up the rays through the glass or feel the heat and show a bit more flesh, if you are lucky enough this time of year.
Please remember about being safe in the sun and to slap on that UVA and UVB protection to keep your skin looking young and healthy.