What is photoaging and can you protect yourself from it?

What is photoaging

Photoaging is the gradual deterioration of the quality of the skin due to exposure to solar radiation, especially ultraviolet rays.

Most often, UV radiation affects areas of the body that are not protected by clothing: the face, neck and upper chest, hands and forearms. Signs of photoaging may include:

  • wrinkles;
  • dark spots;
  • roughness and dryness;
  • loss of tone, sagging and sagging;
  • spider veins and meshes (telangiectasia);
  • increased fragility of vessels with manifestation in the form of bruises (senile purpura).

Photoaging is more threatening to owners of fair skin, which does not tan well and quickly burns . Such people have little eumelanin, a pigment produced by melanocyte cells. It makes the skin darker, and at the same time protects against UV rays.

How the sun damages the skin

Sunlight is made up of electromagnetic waves of different lengths, and they are made of photons. The shorter the wave and the higher its frequency, the more energy its particles have.

Visible light consists of wavelengths from 400 to 780 nm and does not damage the skin much, but ultraviolet rays are a different matter.

The most dangerous for the skin is considered class B UV radiation with a wavelength of 290 to 320 nm. Due to the high energy, such rays penetrate into its upper layers – the epidermis – and damage the DNA of cells, leading to their death or mutation.

Less powerful UV-A rays (320-360 nm) rarely cause sunburn, but they penetrate deeper into the skin, promote the formation of reactive oxygen species, oxidative stress and inflammation. In addition, there are much more of them. Only about 5% of UV-B rays and 95% of UV-A remain in sunlight reaching the earth’s surface.

In addition to direct damage, ultraviolet radiation also affects the amount of collagen. This is the main protein of the skin, which maintains its density and elasticity. Solar radiation activates receptors on the surface of keranocytes and fibroblasts, slowing down the synthesis of new collagen and accelerating the breakdown of existing ones.

Of course, the skin is constantly recovering from the damage done, but it does not do it perfectly. As a result, its structural integrity is violated, solar scars are formed and wrinkles appear.

How to protect yourself from photoaging

In theory, you should never go out in the sun. It’s just impossible in real life.

UV-B rays are needed for the production of vitamin D , which is necessary for strong bones and healthy muscles, good immunity and high energy levels.

In addition, lack of sunlight can negatively affect mood and cognitive abilities.

Ultraviolet rays will affect the skin in any case, but at the same time, you can reduce harm and protect yourself from photoaging by following a few rules.

Don’t go outside during times of greatest danger

Try to reduce your time in the sun during the summer from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. At this time, the risk of sunburn is greatly increased , especially if you are under direct rays.

Even on a cloudy day, UV rays penetrate the clouds and affect the skin. Also, the shadow will not save if you are near sand and water: they reflect 5-17% of the sun’s rays and increase their impact.

So if you want to keep your skin young for as long as possible, forget about the beach vacation, at least in the middle of the day.

Protect skin with cream and clothing

20-30 minutes before sun exposure, apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of the body, including around the lips, hands, ears, and neck.

Choose a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.

You can try options with the addition of antioxidants: vitamins C, E, phloretin and ferulic acid. There is evidence that these ingredients may increase protection against photoaging.

Renew your UV protection every 120 minutes of sun exposure. And remember that any composition is washed off with water, so after swimming and sweating profusely, the cream must be applied again.

Cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat, wear long sleeves and trousers or hemlines. You can choose spacious options from lightweight fabrics that will not be hot .

Add more vegetables, fruits and berries to your diet

Some antioxidants from food and supplements may protect against photoaging by reducing oxidative stress.

For example, beta-carotene and lycopene help reduce UV damage to cells, increase skin elasticity and increase collagen synthesis.

A lot of beta-carotene is found in carrots and greens: spinach, parsley, cilantro, lettuce and green onions. Lycopene can be obtained from tomatoes, watermelon and grapefruit.

Good effect on the skin and another type of antioxidants – polyphenols . In one study , women who drank a mug of cocoa rich in flavanols every day had increased skin density and hydration after 12 weeks, and reduced redness from the sun by 25%.

Try cosmetics with antioxidants

Topical application of certain antioxidants can also protect against photoaging and even reverse the pathological processes. Try cosmetics with the following ingredients :

  • Vitamin C at a concentration of at least 20%. Such a cream can increase collagen production and reduce signs of photoaging.
  • Vitamin E in the form of d-alpha-tocopherol at a concentration of 2-5%. It may have an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Coenzyme Q10. A cream with 1% of this substance can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and inflammatory reactions, reduce the effect of collagen-degrading enzymes, and promote skin repair.

But keep in mind that taking antioxidants will not save you from photoaging if you go to the beach at noon and forget about sunscreen.

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