In today’s society, there’s no escaping the fact that sun-kissed skin is held up as a beauty ideal. Many of the models we see in magazines and the reality stars we watch on television sport beautiful tans, which in British culture have long alluded to a jetset lifestyle - suggestive of someone who’s able to spend plenty of time in countries sunnier than the UK.
But that addiction to sun worship comes at a price: there’s nothing that ages and damages our skin to quite the same degree that sunning ourselves does. So how can we protect our skin while still getting the benefits of being out in the sunshine?
Sun exposure isn't all bad
Before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that exposure to the sun is by no means an entirely bad thing. You’ve probably heard of seasonal affective disorder, a mental health condition also known as ‘winter depression’ that’s thought to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the winter months. One of its treatments is a special lamp to boost your light levels.
While it’s still being understood, it’s thought that seasonal affective disorder might be triggered by reduced activity in the brain’s hypothalamus, which happens due to a lack of sunlight. This results in higher levels of the hormone melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy; lower levels of the hormone serotonin, which makes you feel depressed; and a disruption in your circadian rhythm, which leads to changes in your sleep patterns.
And, while being deprived of sunlight can trigger unwelcome hormone changes, stepping into the sun for a few minutes each day is important for natural vitamin D production. Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because it’s produced when the cholesterol in your skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun.
With vitamin D playing an important role in keeping your bones, teeth and muscles healthy, and low vitamin D levels linked with conditions such as osteoporosis, it’s clear that sunlight isn’t something we should completely hide away from. It’s recommended that you get a few minutes of sun each day, with your arms and/or legs uncovered, and without sunscreen. The amount of time you can safely spend in the sun depends on how sensitive your skin is, with fair skin being more sensitive and needing less time before sunscreen is needed.
The flipside: sun-damaged skin and premature ageing
You could be forgiven for imagining that it’s only when your skin starts going pink or red that it’s being damaged by the sun, but the truth is that the effects of sun exposure don’t have to be visible to be causing long-term damage. It’s worth remembering that there are two types of rays that cause harm to your skin: ultraviolet B (UVB), which cause sun burn, and ultraviolet A (UVA), which reach deeper into your skin and cause your cells to age.
Ultimately, sun damage can, of course, cause skin cancer - we all know that. But does the sun really age you? The answer, emphatically, is yes. In fact, sun damage is the number one cause of premature skin ageing, and protecting your skin from sun exposure is strongly recommended to avoid damage to your skin. We’ll discuss the effects of sun damage on your skin in more detail in our next post, but for now we’ll focus on its effects on the collagen in your skin.
Collagen is a natural protein found throughout your body, and it’s crucial for keeping your skin firm and wrinkle-free. Sun exposure causes photoaging, which is responsible for a whopping 90% of the visible changes to your skin, and it’s all down to the damage the sun does to collagen and another key protein, elastin, which is what keeps your skin supple.
When the collagen and elastin in your skin are damaged by the sun, the result is that your skin becomes less firm and loses its elasticity - and that’s what causes the tell-tale signs of premature ageing, namely those unwelcome fine lines and wrinkles.
Collagen peptides for sun-damaged skin
The good news is that if you’re worried that your skin may be ageing prematurely due to sun exposure, help is at hand in the form of collagen skincare products and supplements that help to replenish your collagen levels, working on your beauty regime from the inside out.
VERISOL®, the Bioactive Collagen Peptide® you’ll find in our powerful Pure Collagen and Complete Collagen supplements, is clinically proven to increase skin elasticity by 15% after four weeks and decrease wrinkle volume by 20% after eight weeks of taking a daily 2,500mg dose. And on the subject of supplements, as we’re talking about sunshine, you might also want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement, at least in the winter months when you’re less likely to be able to get enough sunlight for your body to generate sufficient vitamin D on its own.
For even more collagen goodness for sun-damaged skin, you could also add some collagen skincare products into your daily skincare ritual. Our Collagen Face Mask helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles at the same time as perking up tired-looking skin, while our Collagen Facial Serum is the ultimate anti-ageing skin treatment, powered by 20 high-performing plant extracts that penetrate deep into your skin to leave it looking plump and radiant.
If you’d like to find out more about collagen and its importance to your body and skin, do have a read of our post all about collagen, and if you need a little help deciding on the best collagen supplement for your needs, look no further than our handy quick guide. In our next post, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into the effects of sun exposure on your skin, so if this is a topic you’re interested in knowing more about, don’t forget to check back in a couple of weeks to read more.
Written by guest blogger Rachel Ramsay.