Get set for the sunshine
As summer fast approaches it’s more important than ever to arm yourself with the right knowledge to ensure you enjoy your time in the sunshine, while still keeping your skin protected. We chat to Dr Curtis Cole, Senior Director of Technology for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Worldwide, about UVA/B rays, sun damage, and how best to protect yourself from premature ageing…
Bh: How do UVA and UVB rays affect the skin?
CC: UVB rays are most affected by the ozone layer and the sun angle, so their intensity changes the most with the time of day and season. They do not penetrate as deeply into the skin as UVA rays, but they are primarily responsible for sunburn and skin cancers, as well as many other skin ageing phenomena.
UVA rays are much more prevalent in sunlight (up to 90 percent of the sun’s UV rays) and cause deeper, more extensive damage through the formation of harmful free radicals. UVA rays also break down the elastin and collagen fibres in the dermis, making skin stiffer, more ‘leathery’ and saggy, and creating lasting pigmentation spots. UVA is also implicated in suppressing the skin’s immune system, making it more susceptible to infection and skin cancers.
Bh: When is UVA damage most likely to occur?
CC: UVA rays persist all year round and are cumulative (meaning the damage caused can build up and worsen as time goes by). Because the sun’s UVA rays are more constant, there isn’t any specific time that the damage is occurring.
Note from bh: this why it’s ultra-important to wear a moisturiser with an SPF all year round – if you don’t, there’s a high chance your skin is slowly but surely getting damaged by UVA rays.
Bh: What are some of the main myths surrounding UVA/B rays?
CC: The main myth is that UVA rays are the sole cause premature ageing – when in fact, UVB rays are the primary cause, with UVA contributing to the damaging effects. While too much exposure to UVA rays can cause sun damage and premature ageing on its own, the primary driver is UVB.
Bh: Why does sun damage only become apparent years later?
CC: Sun damage is cumulative, and as you age the topmost layers of the skin slow down their renewal processes and become thinner. As the upper layers become thinner, so too does the damage below become more apparent. The damage to the dermis also builds up as time goes by, losing its elasticity and beginning to droop, causing the sagging around the jaw line, cheek fold, and neck.
Bh: How does the Helioplex technology in Neutrogena Healthy Defence work to protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays?
CC: Helioplex technology provides very high levels of both UVB and UVA protection by using a combination of UV filters and photostabilising technology to assure that the protection stays strong even in the face of prolonged sun exposure. Because Helioplex is photostable, the protection lasts longer and provides the highest levels of UV protection available.
Do you wear an SPF all year around or are you a bit slack with your sun protection?