According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one person dies of melanoma every hour in the US. Excess UV exposure is the biggest avoidable culprit leading to skin cancer and premature aging.

UVA and UVB Facts

UV rays from the sun or from a tanning bed have many detrimental effects on the skin. They directly cause DNA damage, and create so-called “reactive oxygen species” (ROS) or “free radicals.” ROS are high energy molecules that collide with proteins and lipids in the cell and cause direct cellular damage. This damage is responsible for the effects of UV rays on skin.

UVB rays mainly cause tanning and burning. These rays are stopped by the epidermis or the outer layer of the skin. SPF or Sun Protection Factor is a measure of protection against UVB rays only, and not UVA rays.

UVA rays cause aging, sun allergies, and skin cancer. They penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB rays and can reach into the dermis or the living skin cells causing DNA and collagen damage. Unlike UVB rays, UVA rays persist all year round, even in winter and on cloudy days. They also reach us in the shade and pass through windows. Thus in the car, in the office, and in the plane, we are bombarded by UVA rays necessitating use of sunscreen even when indoors. Common signs of UVA aging are fine lines, wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation (sun spots, brown spots, age spots), sagging skin (loss in firmness), dullness (uneven skin tone), and dryness.

Sunscreen Facts

Choosing a good sunscreen is difficult because in the US, we do not have many UVA protecting ingredients that are FDA cleared and we also do not have standard measurements for reporting UVA protection. Also, most sun protecting ingredients available perform poorly because they become ineffective shortly after application.

With the above thoughts in mind, prevention of sun exposure and use of Broad Spectrum Protection is key. This means a sunscreen with a high SPF against UVB rays and also protection against UVA rays between 320 and 400 nanometers. Sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure, in generous amount and reapplied often throughout the day. Any part of the body not covered with protective clothing and exposed to the sun should be covered with sunscreen.

Photoprotection Of The Future- Heliocare

Sunscreen is no longer the whole story to sun protection. Heliocare- a natural fern extract- is a dietary supplement for the skin that offers a revolutionary new form of sun protection. Heliocare works as a potent oral antioxidant which mops up free radicals before they damage important cellular proteins. Heliocare is taken daily and over twelve years of research has confirmed that is has no harmful side effects. It is active within half an hour of the first dose (unlike many oral antioxidants which take months to build up sufficient levels). Also, because Heliocare is taken orally it is effective in protecting cells deep in the skin which are responsible for many of the signs of photoaging namely fine lines, wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation (sun spots, brown spots, age spots), sagging skin (loss in firmness), dullness (uneven skin tone), and dryness.

Along with sunscreen and Heliocare, using topical antioxidants such as vitamin C and Vitamin A contribute to multilevel photoprotection.

Last Thoughts

Get a VISIA Computerized Skin Analysis at Beauty, Laser & Wellness Center to find out about your skin’s current health and learn how to reverse the accumulated damage. Get a complete skin check yearly and any time you notice any change in color or shape of a mole as it can be an early sign of skin cancer.