Photoaging

Today, more and more people are interested in anti-aging. Being the outermost layer of our body, the skin often acts as an important sign of someone’s age. Therefore, it is better to know the causes of aging skin and prevent it.

There are two main causes of aging skin. One is intrinsic aging and the other is extrinsic aging – photoaging. Intrinsic aging occurs due to chronological changes and is an inherent, natural degenerative process which we cannot prevent. It is destined by genetic factors such as level of hormone secretion and thickness of the skin. On the other hand, extrinsic aging can be delayed with proper and continuous care. The accumulated effects of pollutants (dirt, cold, wind, smog and exposure to sun) is the culprit of extrinsic aging. Compared to intrinsic aging, extrinsic aging can appear at earlier periods in more severe degrees. Signs of extrinsic aging include dryness, wrinkles, rough skin and pigmentation.

What is photoaging?

Photoaging is the biggest external factor that makes our skin saggy and old. It is a combination of photo- which is ‘related to light’ and aging. As you can guess from the word itself, it is an aging effect due to light, specifically UV rays. Photoaging is classified into 4 phases from Mild to Severe.

Group Classification Typical Age Description Skin Characteristic
I Mild 28-35 No Wrinkles Early photo aging; mild pigment changese, no keratosis, minimal wrinkles, minimal or no makeup
II Moderate 35-50 Wrinkles in Motion Early to moderate photo aging; early brown spots visible, keratosis palpable but not visible, parallel smile lines begin to appear, wears some foundation
III Advanced 50-65 Wrinkles at Rest Advanced photo aging; obvious discoloration, visible capillaries, visible keratosis, wears heavier foundation
IV Severe 60 & up Only Wrinkles Severe photo aging; yellow/gray skin color, prior skin malignancies, wrinkles throughout – no normal skin, cannot wear make-up because it cracks and cakes

Major factor of photoaging – UV rays

UV rays are part of the light spectrum that reaches earth. UV rays have short wavelength so it is not visible to our eyes. There are 3 kinds of UV rays; UVA, UVB and UVC. Severity of UV rays can be measured by UV index.

1.       Categories of UV rays

  • UV A

UV A cannot be absorbed by ozone layer. It can penetrate through windows even during cloudy days. Among UV rays, it mostly damages our skin. It creates redness and it is responsible for premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.

  • UV B

UV B radiation is stronger than UVA. 90% of it is absorbed by ozone layer, but the rest still reaches earth’s surface. It is the most intense in summer from 10 am to 2 pm. It usually affects outer layer of skin, causing sunburn, premature aging of skin and skin cancer.

  • UV C

UV C is the most devastating and harmful to our skin. It has the strongest UV radiation. However, it can be absorbed by ozone layer.

2.       Effect of UV rays

When UV A and B work together the damage becomes a lot harsher. It will penetrate into our skin breaking down collagen and elastin. To make matters worse, it slows down production of collagen. Hence, repeated exposure to Sun will cause premature aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, freckles, discoloration, and dryness.

UV rays also interact with melanin. Melanin first absorbs UV rays in order to protect your skin from damaging. However, if it receives excessive UV rays, you will get sunburn. Other than that, it can modify DNA called p53, which is in charge of repairing damaged cells and discarding severely damaged cells.

3.       Measure of UV

The amount reaching the Earth’s surface can be affected by several factors, for example weather, time of the day and year etc. Thus to help people understand intensity of UV rays, meteorologists came up with UV index. It is a global standard indicating the strength of the UV rays reaching the ground for an hour around noon. It is advisable to check before going out and prepare for potential sun damage. 1-3 means low exposure; 4-6 means medium; 7-9 means high; 10+ means extreme exposure. The higher the number, the greater the exposure to UV rays. Therefore there is a higher change of getting sun damage which ultimately leads to skin cancer.

Effective way to avoid photoaging

1.      Wear Sunscreen

To minimize aging caused by sun, reducing UV ray’s effect is the key. So wear sunscreen! Sunscreen acts as a protector which prohibits harmful UV rays from penetrating into our skin. It is recommended to wear it at least 15 minutes before going out and reapply as frequently as possible.

2.       Avoid peak sun hours

Most of sun rays reach the ground from 10 am to 2pm. Thus, staying inside during peak sun hours is a good way to delay photoaging.

3.       Wear sunglasses and hats

It is a good way to block sun ray from reaching our skin with accessories. Wearing those accessories not only makes you appear more fashionable, it also reduces intensity and amount of UV rays reaching our skin, preventing wrinkles and fine lines.

4.       Soothe your skin

After an entire day of outdoor activities, you have to soothe your skin. Cleanse properly and apply soothing products such as aloe vera gel. Slicing potato and putting it on your face will also moisturize and soothe sunburn skin.

Featured image taken from Faceworkshops