Funny stuff skin! Isn’t it? We all are completely surrounded by it. Some of us have rather more than we want. It stops all the messy bits falling out onto the floor. Yet most of us completely ignore it.
Skins has been described as the body’s largest organ and it does so many things other than stop us falling apart. It keeps bugs out and our insides in. It helps regulate our temperature. It regulates our internal water and excretes toxins. Combined with small levels of sunshine it even creates Vitamin D which is essential for healthy life. It tells us a lot of information about the outside world in terms of heat, texture, pressure and pain. It helps us attract members of the opposite sex, both with looks and smell! It even tries to keep the sun from doing too much damage to us too….
And this is where we have a problem. For the last 40 to 50 years or so it has been fashionable to have a ‘tan’. It certainly wasn’t in Victorian times when the only regularly tanned were the farm workers who spent all day in the sun and couldn’t avoid it. The fashion then was for ladies to look pale and ‘wan’ to display their delicacy and their need to find the right man to look after them. About the time when package holidays became popular there appeared to be a growing need to show off to those back home how good the holiday was by how much sun there was out there. Demonstrated best by how golden brown you could look. Interestingly this trend has continued long after anyone was able to get a tan at home with a sun bed!! For unfortunately very little money. Best not to get me started on sun beds or we might be here all day.
So lets get this straight. Ultraviolet light is bad for your skin. It makes no difference where the ultraviolet comes from and very little difference which type it is A or B.
In fact the reason it goes brown is a desperate attempt by your skin to protect itself from further damage. Pretty much all of the features of the ageing face can be put down in part to photo-ageing. i.e. damage related to exposure to ultraviolet light.
Now I am not trying to suggest that if you lived permanently in a cave excluded from ultraviolet light, then you wouldn’t age. That is obviously not true, but you would age more slowly. Yes you would!
So what would I suggest, apart from living in a cave, to help this problem? Well firstly can we all start preferring paler skin? If not white then at least a little less brown…..? Also fake tan is great. and no I don’t have any shares in fake tan products.
Secondly don’t go on holiday and lie on the sun loungers all day. Just don’t. From the neck down I am not too bothered, but those bits will give the game away later. So at the very least keep you face out of the sun as much as possible. Hats! Yes I like hats, and there are a huge variety but I just prefer those that keep the most sun of my face (apologies to my wife and daughters not withstanding!!). By the way you will get more than enough colour to your face walking to and from the sun shades and the bar!
Sunscreen. Absolutely. In fact I often tell my patients to put on sunscreen even in England even in the middle of winter and even if they are going to be inside all day. At least then if you do pop out you already have it on….
Oh yes and don’t forget the Vitamin D argument. ‘Sun is good for you because it helps you make vitamin D’. Well I have it on good authority that the amount of skin exposure you need for your daily vitamin D requirements can be had by exposing the palms of your hands to the direct sun for 5 to 10 minutes. That’s it.
The Australians are much better at this than us with their Slip, Slop and Slap recommendations and the fact that most of them are now very much more covered up than us.
So Slip on a top, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat!
If you have ignored this advice in the past and already have significant sun damage the good news is I can help a lot. It won’t necessarily be cheap but plenty of things can be done to improve your skin.
I am not sure whether I should say this but every morning I get up and give thanks for nicotine and sunshine as they make me a fortune!!!
So please stay out of the sun as much as possible and can we all please go back to valuing good healthy pale skin???
Till next time.