In a large part of the United States the changing of the seasons is a fact of life. But in southern states like Texas, the seasons range from a dry summer to a wet summer with some cold fronts thrown in for good measure. Outdoor activities that don’t require layers of clothing are ideal year round. Although in the past the sun was seen as harmless, like tobacco or DDT, and sun tan lotion was used more like butter or oil on a surface of a skillet, there is now more awareness about threats the sun poses to our skin’s health.
The Sun Is a Life Giver
Next to water, the sun is the main driver of life on the Earth. If people don’t get enough sunlight they must use supplements to get the necessary Vitamin D, or eat lots of fish, one of the few foods that contain a large amount of Vitamin D (liver, cheese and eggs also contain small amounts). Vitamin D regulates calcium absorption, contributing to bone and nervous system health. It is also important for increasing immunity, insulin health, blood pressure and preventing depression.
But just like a lot of good things in life, the sun is best enjoyed in moderation. If it wasn’t for the Earth’s atmosphere, the most important part of which, for the purpose of this discussion about the sun, is the ozone layer. Without this shield the Earth would be as lifeless as the Moon.
The Dangers From the Sun
The source of the sun’s danger lies in the electromagnetic radiation it emits called UV (or Ultraviolet) radiation. Violet is the last color visible to the human eye, ultraviolet isn’t visible. Its lack of visibility is also why its dangers weren’t clear until recently.
There are many forms of UV, but they are all absorbed by the ozone layer except for UVA and UVB.
The difference between the two is their wavelength. Think of different wavelengths like the different frequencies on your radio. UVA is a longwave and not absorbed at all by the ozone layer. UVB is a medium wave and mostly absorbed by the ozone layer. The shorter wavelength UV rays that sunscreen doesn’t protect against, but that are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer, are so destructive they are used to sterilize workspaces, wastewater and even food products.
Because UVA rays are a longer wavelength, they can penetrate the skin more and affect deeper layers of the skin. UVB rays are what cause the color change in skin tone by producing melanin and a suntan, or sunburn if overexposed. UVBs are what also cause the body to produce Vitamin D.
The Effects of Sun Damage
UV rays damage the skin by affecting the DNA and producing molecular changes. This contributes to cosmetic issues like wrinkles, premature lines, skin laxity, brown spots and aging skin, and medical issues like skin cancer. Over time, the accumulation of damage from the sun can weaken the skin’s underlying collagen and elastin. These are the building blocks of our skin.
Recognizing the existence and effects of UV rays today makes preventative measures key. While both the melanin produced by the body due to sun exposure, otherwise known as a suntan, or the genes passed down to you by your ancestors can protect the skin from UVB and UVA radiation, nothing is as effective as sunscreen.
SPF Is the Key
Recognizing the existence and effects of UV rays today is what makes preventative measures so important. Sunscreen effectiveness is measured according to the standard called “sun protection factor” (or SPF, for short). The time it will protect a person can be measured by multiplying the SPF number by how long it would normally take that person to burn without sunscreen.
So someone who would normally sunburn in 10 minutes won’t sunburn for 150 minutes when they use SPF 15. It is important to read the label as some sunscreen might need to be reapplied every two hours (or 120 minutes) regardless of the SPF. Reapplication may also be necessary if you go bathing or sweat a lot.
It also important to note that the SPF rating in many sunscreens only applies to UVB rays. For it to also provide equal protection against UVA rays, make sure the label says “broad spectrum protection.”
Reversing the Effects of Sun Damage
If you have existing damage to your skin from the sun our office can help. Mirror Mirror is Houston’s premier beauty boutique offering the finest skincare products to rejuvenate the skin and refresh the spirit.
We are not your average spa. We are aestheticians and cosmetic professionals committed to detailed protocols and the strictest discipline in our field. We strive to the highest standards of cosmetic care so that every treatment will have exceptional, consistent results.
Our medically trained and supervised staff can reverse the signs of aging and promote future skin health. We offer a variety of minimally invasive services that can be performed alone or in conjunction with other surgical or non-surgical treatments. Mirror Mirror also offers cosmeceutical products along with customized skincare routines to ensure optimal care continues at home.
Skin Exfoliation and Resurfacing Services
Laser skin resurfacing, microdermabrasion and an array of chemical peels provide patients with a way to restore youth and vitality to the skin. Laser treatments are the most advanced technology of the three, and can be customized to focus on specific areas. Microdermabrasion utilizes mechanical exfoliation. While chemical peel treatments exfoliate through a chemical method.
All these treatments seek to restore the skin by a similar mechanism. By first shedding the upper layers where more sun damage is present, the healthier skin below becomes visible. They then accelerate the process of skin cell renewal.
Contact Us and Book a Free Consultation
Every treatment is monitored by Dr. Paul Vitenas. He has practiced in the Houston area since 1990, and has been named one of Houston’s Top Doctors and America’s Top Plastic Surgeons. He’s also been awarded Houston’s Most Compassionate Doctor and been named a Top Doctor for Women. We think you will see the reflection of something great at Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique.
Click here to learn more about award-winning plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Vitenas. Our office is conveniently located in the heart of Houston. If you are not a local, we can schedule an online consultation. We can also assist with travel and financing arrangements.