Are you wearing sunscreen right this minute? You probably should be. Even if you’re indoors, chances are there’s a UVA wave heading for your epidermis. And if you think UVA is nothing to worry about, think again. The latest research suggests the relatively ignored spectrum of ultraviolet A is an important co-contributor to skin cancer production. It’s a deeply penetrating wavelength responsible for much of the photo damage and photo ageing seen in middle-aged and elderly. If you’re not up to speed on the difference between UVA and UVB, here are a couple of pointers. UVA has a longer wavelength, travels through glass and damages collagen, speeding up the ageing process. On the other hand, UVB is shorter, penetrates only through to the epidermis, and causes sunburn and cancerous changes.
Dermatologist Robert Hannaford believes it’s imperative we all understand the latest research on sun damage and update our sunscreen protection accordingly. “Choose a sunscreen that has broad spectrum protection against both UVB and UVA rays, as both forms of UV light can cause skin cancer,” he says. And then, we need to actually apply it. A study funded by Neutrogena reveals 75 per cent of us do not apply sunscreen to our faces daily. It’s hard to understand, given that the humble sunscreen is hands down the most effective anti-ageing tool you can buy.
Up to 90 per cent of ageing is caused by external factors, the big one being sun exposure. With an ultraviolet light, we can see damage to the skin that can not yet be seen by the naked eye. With an ultraviolet camera, videographer Thomas Leveritt gave people a shocking look at the freckles and splotches the sun has caused to their skin. He shows how pristine and clear of damage our skin is when we are brand new by showing the faces of babies and children under the same filter, as well as the immense power of sunscreen. Exposed with UV light, sunscreen and eyeglasses appear black because they block the UV rays.