Updated: May 13, 2020
The right amount of sunlight is so good for us because it directly influences our feel-good hormone (serotonin). That’s why being outdoor generally makes us feel happier. We also need sunlight to help us make Vitamin D, which helps prevent bone disease (osteoporosis) and impaired immunity. It’s recommended that we get 10 to 20 minutes of sunlight each day to stay healthy.
The sun radiates numerous types of waves including UVA and UVB. UVB are shorter rays which hits the top layer of the skin (the epidermis) causing damage that you can see and feel like redness, inflammation and burns. UVA are longer rays able to penetrate the epidermis and into the dermis where they destroy cells essential for healthy skin. Their danger lies in the fact that we can’t feel or see the damage because it’s deep in the dermis. The damage accumulates over the years and shows up as solar keratosis, irregular pigmentation, laxity and possibly skin cancer much later in life.
Here are the interesting facts that no one gets told - UVB occur mostly in summer or between 11am to 3pm when sunburn occurs. UVA occur all year round, from sunrise to sunset, at the same intensity, even on cloudy days. Because UVA rays bypass the upper skin layer, we can’t see or feel the damage so we tend not to wear sun protection in the winter or on cloudy days but this is when skin stem cells, fibroblasts (cells that make collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid) are damaged causing our skin to age. Most sun damage and photoageing is a result of exposure to UVA on a daily basis – gardening, driving, walking. That is why it is important to protect your skin even in winter, not just when on holiday or down at the beach. Protection can be sun-wise clothes, hats and a good broad spectrum sunscreen which can protect from both UVB and UVA rays.
Next month, I will be sharing about SPF’s, the pros and cons of chemical vs physical blockers.