Can the Sun be damaging to the skin: Myth or Fact

Sunlight seems to be the devil when it comes to skincare. In fact, if you want to preserve your skin for the long-term, dermatologists recommend avoiding exposure to the sun at all costs. Let’s explore how true this myth is. 

Does the sun damage skin?

Yes. But how?

UV rays from the sun penetrate deeper layers of the skin and damage or kill skin cells. UVA causes burning on the outer layers of the skin, and UVA accelerates aging by penetrating deeper into the skin. On the surface UV can accelerate the production of melanin in certain areas resulting in freckles, sun spots, hyperpigmentation, and more. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause sun burns.

Types of sun damage

Prolonged sun damage can result in the formation of

  • Sun spots
  • Sun burns
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Melasma
  • Freckles
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Skin pigmentation

But doesn’t the sun benefit the skin?

Yes. The sun also benefits you and your skin. Exposure to sunlight without UV protection triggers Vitamin D synthesis. This synthesis reaction causes immune cells to come to the skin’s outer layers where they can protect against and even repair skin damage. Vitamin D is used in your body for muscle development, bone health, immune function, and heart health. Without enough sunlight exposure, you will need to rely on your diet to get all your vitamin D, which is often difficult due to the lack of fortified foods in India.

So why is it recommended to wear sunscreen?

Sunscreen is a miracle for your skin. It protects against the UV damage your skin can experience. Sunscreen is strongly recommended by dermatologists, even though you need your skin to be exposed to direct sunlight to synthesise Vitamin D. The argument often comes up that you might become Vitamin D deficient if you wore sunscreen. However, any exposed areas of your body, including your scalp, can synthesise Vitamin D. To add to this, sunscreen breaks down with exposure to sunlight, so you get about two hours of protection with SPF 50 and 90 minutes with SPF 30. In other words, sunscreen cannot stop all the UV from synthesising vitamin D in your body. You need just ten minutes of direct exposure to sunlight in a day to synthesise your daily requirement for Vitamin D. Since no sunscreen will be applied to your scalp, you’re still getting your Vitamin D needs met.

How to treat sun damage?

Treating sun damage is a two pronged process. You will need powerful ingredients that can accelerate the healing of your skin. To add to this, you will also need to wear SPF to prevent the damage from increasing or slowing down your treatment.  Ingredients like Vitamin B3, rosehip oil (rich source of Vitamin A), almond oil (source of Vitamin E), and Vitamin C are very useful for treating sun damage. Ideally, getting a two in one Vitamin rich moisturizer with SPF like this one is recommended.

Skin Care Routine for Oily Skin – All Seasons

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