Shades of Beauty



Here comes another post of my BeautyNary series. As summer approaches, one topic moves into the focus again: Photoaging.
In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know about this subject.

The word "photo" is derived from the Greek word "phos" meaning “light”. Therefore, "Photoaging" can be translated as "light ageing". This is premature ageing of the skin as a result of repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV), predominantly from the sun or artificial UV sources. It changes the normal structure of our skin. Under the surface, your skin is composed of three layers - first the epidermis, then the dermis and the deepest layer is the subcutaneous tissue.

UV radiation can be divided into UVA, UVB and UVC rays. They differ in their wavelength, their biological activity and the extent to which they can penetrate the skin. Although the short-wavelength UVC is the most damaging type of UV radiation, the earth's atmosphere protects us from it for the most part.

We have to pay attention to UVA and UVB because they are the real culprits of photoaging.
UVB rays have a medium-wavelength. Nevertheless, they are strong enough to cause sunburns and other changes in your cells. Apart from premature signs of skin ageing, they can, as the worst outcome, cause cancer. Their medium-wavelength impedes deeper penetration beyond the epidermis. Compared to UVB, UVA radiation is weaker but has a longer wavelength. Therefore, it can infiltrate your skin much deeper. UVA rays reach the dermis. It includes proteins like collagen, elastin and other important fibres, which are responsible for your skin's strength and elasticity, as well as for its youthful look. Besides the immediate tanning effect, too intense UVA radiation contributes to skin ageing and wrinkling by damaging the proteins and fibres of the dermis.

Signs of premature ageing aka Photoaging are:
- dark spots
- wrinkles
- leathery skin
- droopy skin
- uneven skin colour
- yellowish tint
- broken vessels / spider veins
- the risk of developing skin cancer


1. Photoaging only happens outside and by taking long sunbaths.
This is wrong. Every time you expose your unprotected skin to the sun, you risk "light damage". It doesn't matter if you are inside or outside nor if the sun is shining or the sky is covered. The truth is, sun rays can pass through clouds. Sure, they don't have the same intensity as they have if the sky is cloudless, but still they have enough power to induce Photoaging. Unfortunately, unlike UVB radiation, UVA rays can get through window glass. Therefore, you are constantly exposed to UVA radiation, even if you are in your home or driving a car. By the way, UV rays also manage to pass through your clothes.

2. The higher the SPF in my sunscreen the better the protection.
Also not true. The SPF only indicates how much longer you can stay in the sun without getting a burn. For example with an SPF 25, you can extend your time in the sun for 25 minutes.

3. Wearing sun protection eliminates every risk of sun damage and Photoaging.
No, even with the highest SPF there is still a chance of 2-3 % for UV rays to penetrate into your skin. There is no such thing as a complete sun protection.

4. Wearing an SPF 15 in my moisturiser and an SPF 20 in my foundation adds up to an SPF 35.
Sorry, also wrong. You can't sum up different SPFs. You SPF is always is the product with highest SPF. In this case SPF 20.

- wear a sunscreen every time of the year
- wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVB and UVA.
- apply sunscreen liberally to get its intended effect.
- skip the indoor tanning
- choose cosmetics products such as moisturiser, foundation, lipstick, hand cream and body lotion that contain an SPF broad spectrum sunscreen.
- by wearing hats and sunglasses you can achieve an extra protection for your face

I hope I could clear up some misconceptions about Photoaging. Keep in mind I am not a doctor or a scientist. Everything in this post is solely based on what I have been reading about this subject.

Do you like to know anything else about Photoaging ? Please ask in the comment section.

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Katharina (Friday, 10 June 2016 22:09)

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