Wrinkles in Time: How The Sun Can Speed Up The Skin Aging Process
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Wrinkles in Time: How The Sun Can Speed Up The Skin Aging Process

The reader will learn the dangers of the sun's harmful rays especially pertaining to premature skin aging.

Everyone has heard the same old thing since we were little, “wear your sun block!”, our mothers would nag, but as children we never really grasped the significance of that warning. Not only do the sun’s rays penetrate our delicate skin and lead to skin cancer and other skin disorders, but as we get older the sun actually helps us look older. “Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty - they merely move it from their faces into their hearts”, a beautiful quote by Martin Buxbaum, is true but could use some tweaking. If we are smart about aging, we will have beauty in our hearts as well as on our faces as we age. So let’s look at the nitty-gritty; the true colors of the sun and what we have in store if we continue our love affair with tanning and perpetual casual sun exposure.

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer—know thy enemy. The best start to protect your beautiful skin from losing its youthful appearance is to know what you’re dealing with. Not all UV rays are created equally. Understanding the effects the sun actually has on your skin helps bring the concept of sun damage to reality. UVA rays used to fly under the radar, but the more its studied the more we know about its functions. UVA rays are highly efficient and penetrate our skin the deepest to do its damage. It is constant throughout the year despite weather, so just because you don’t see the sun blaring at you in the sky, its sneaky UVA rays are still beaming through onto your skin. UVB rays are the little rascals that actually burn our skin. These rays are the most intense in the late morning and early afternoon, so take extra precautions between the hours of approximately 10am and 3pm. UVA and UVB rays work wonderfully together to ravage our youthful skin so beware and cover up to save face.

So let’s start with the basics of how and why we get wrinkles. Aside from the natural toll aging takes on our skin, the sun is our number one culprit. Think of the sun’s rays as little scavengers that work their way into your skin cells and just start rioting: breaking windows, starting fires, destroying property- just pure mischief. Collagen is a superior protein in our skin that, hand in hand with elastin (another very important protein for our skin) keeps it firm, resilient, and plump. One of the first ways the sun makes enemies with us is when it starts attacking our collagen and breaking it down. After the protein fibers are damaged, they attempt to rebuild their structure but are unfortunately less successful the more often they are damaged. Over the years, this process leads to sagging, loose skin because the skin is no longer strong enough to hold itself up. Tragic!

Next we move on to pesky free radicals. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules and save too much science jargon, think of free radicals as a lonely dancer without a partner. With only one electron, these lonely dancers search the body for other molecules so it can hijack one of their electrons. What’s the big deal, what does this have to do with the beauty of our skin? Well, for one thing this action causes a domino effect; once one molecule finds a suitable pair, the molecule that’s one electron short then goes seeking another electron to steal, repeating the process every time another molecule is thrown off balance. This process damages our cells’ functions and alters genetic content. This damage then activates the breakdown of more collagen and further hinders our skin’s ability to heal itself. So how can we avoid these troublesome molecules from ruining our skin? Other than kicking the smoking habit and avoiding as much air pollution as possible, stay out of the sun! Even the smallest amount of sunlight can trigger a free radical chain reaction from its harmful rays.

In addition to collagen breakdown and free radical damage, UV rays also inhibit our body’s natural ability to repair our DNA. If our skin’s structure is altered and damaged by harmful rays, our body wants to rebuild the DNA that was broken down but cannot do so effectively because of the interfering UV rays. If you don’t worry so much about your looks, read this article carefully anyway because this knowledge may save your life. The sun not only steals our good looks over the years but also suppresses vital immunity functions. When we are exposed to sunlight, certain chemicals are released that inhibit the body’s immunity, leaving the door wide open for the formation of cancer cells. Not good. It also weakens our body’s ability to commit cell-suicide. This sounds like a good thing, but cell-suicide (apoptosis) is our body’s way of cleaning house. It terminates and removes all of our damaged and harmful skin cells; sun exposure prevents this process and can lead to cancerous cells as well.

So if cancer and wrinkles aren’t enough to keep you out of the sun, there’s also several more exciting things sun exposure can bring you! Thinning skin, easy bruising, broken capillaries and blood vessels, moles, and liver spots are a few more features the sun can deliver to you. So, what to do, what to do. Embrace your natural skin tone and stop laying out in the sun and using tanning beds (whoever told us that fake tanning is less maleficent than the sun was taking crazy pills), wear those wide framed sunglasses (that are in style at least), enjoy the shade, and of course wear that sun block! Remember that all sun blocks are not the same quality and have different levels of effectiveness and protection factors, so read my article that’s all about sun block and go out and stock up!

References:

"Age Quotes, Sayings about Aging, Quotations about Youth." The Quote Garden - Quotes, Sayings, Quotations, Verses. Web. 17 Oct. 2009. http://www.quotegarden.com/age.html

"Anti Aging Skin Care - Effects of Sun on the Skin." Dermatology - Guide to Skin Conditions and Skin Care. Web. 17 Oct. 2009. http://dermatology.about.com/cs/beauty/a/suneffect.htm

"What Causes Wrinkles." Dermatology - Guide to Skin Conditions and Skin Care. Web. 17 Oct. 2009. http://dermatology.about.com/cs/beauty/a/wrinklecause.htm

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