Sunlight and your skin

As most of us are now going to prepare for summer holiday, here some useful advice from PJ Cousin, author of "Natural Recipe for a perfect skin" and Director of Cure By Nature in Replingham Road.

Some exposure to sunlight is obviously beneficial, by stimulating the production of vitamin D, a substance essential for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones, but regular, prolonged sunbathing and exposure to ultraviolet rays is terribly destructive.The dangers have increased considerably in reecent years, due to destruction of the ozone layer in the upper part of the atmosphere.There are two type of Ultraviolet rays. UVB rays short-wave burn the two outer layers of the skin.

Only 10% of the UVB rays reach the Dermis; but these dangerous rays act upon the all important collagen-elastin structure causing its rapid dissociation. UVA  long-wave ray penetrate deeper into the skin, weakening the skin's inner tissue and contributing even more to aging, wrinkling, and loss of elasticity. 

Although UVB Rays are considered responsible for sunburns and most skin cancers- more than 90% of the skin cancers in the United States are attributed to UVB exposureAlmost all sunscreens protect against UVB rays, but nothing is available to screen out all UVA rays. Even with sunscreens offering a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF), your skin is still vulnerable to damage from UVA rays. SPF is a standardized measurement of a sunscreen's ability to protect the skin and prevent sunburn. 

Some researchers estimate that sunscreens advertising UVA protection are actually offering protection equal to only SPF 3 or 4 for the UVA rays, even though the SPF is shown to be higher for  UVB rays). Having a tan is little protection from skin damage because it provides protection equal to an SPF of 2. A cream  labelled as Factor 10, for certain type of skin and in particular  external conditions ( wind, dilution of cream by salted water, heavy perspiration etc...) offer only a Factor 5 protection. Be aware also that US sunscreen have a Sun Protection Factor lower the european equivalent 

Basic precautions: Minimize sun exposure at midday (10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) Apply a sunscreen with SPF-15 or higher to all exposed areas of the body.  Reapply sunscreen every two hours, even on cloudy days. Also, reapply after swimming or perspiring. 

Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation through sunlamps or tanning parlors. When choosing sunscreen, follow the guidelines in the phototypes table for minimum Sun Protection.Always remember, even if sunscreens have high SPF, they don't protect you from UVA rays.People going on holidays in high altitudes, or to a sea resort, need higher sunscreens with higher SPF. 

Different complexions require different degrees of protection: Fair Skin: SPF 30- Medium Skin:SPF 30, followed by SPF 20 in a few days Dark Skin: SPF 15 with SPF 20 on shoulders and faceFor full protection use sunblock.

About the author:

PJ Cousin M.B.Ac.C is a London registered acupuncturist and herbalist with 30 years experience in acupuncture and natural medicine; he also learned massage, homeopathy, Eastern and Western Herbalism as well as acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. PJ Cousin taught acupuncture and all these subjects for 12 years in this country and abroad. A prolific writer he has worked as a contributor on nine books, including 3 volumes of an encyclopedia; as a sole author, he has written three best selling books: "Facelift at your fingertips", "Natural recipes for a perfect skin" and "Food is Medicine".


Author: Pierre Jean Cousin
Copyright © 2023 Pierre Jean Cousin. All rights reserved

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