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By: Paolo Giacomoni, PhD. Posted: 05/07/2016
The single worst enemy of the skin is solar radiation. Solar radiation damages the skin’s DNA, impairs its immune system, and hinders energy production. The harmful component of solar radiation is the ultraviolet portion, composed of UVB and UVA. It is said that UVB “burns” and that UVA “ages”.
In reality, both UVA and UVB generate age-inducing damage and trigger an inflammatory response that damages the elastic fibers in the dermis. This ultraviolet-induced molecular damage to the skin manifests itself with reddening and burning pain, 16 to 24 hours after exposure to UV.
It is said that UVB is more energetic than UVA, and that UVA penetrates more deeply in the skin. While this may seem contradictory, it is true. In reality, energy has nothing to do with penetration: UVB is strongly absorbed by the DNA and RNA of the cells of the epidermis, and therefore it does not penetrate in the dermis whereas UVA is poorly absorbed by DNA and RNA, traverses the epidermis and penetrates more deeply in the skin. UVA can be absorbed by endogenous photo-sensitizers, which transfer its energy to molecular Oxygen and transform it in the extremely reactive Singlet Oxygen that triggers the oxidative cascade thus multiplying age-provoking damage in the membranes of skin cells and on the lipids of the epidermis.
One has to avoid the damage caused by the UVB and UVA, by protecting the skin across all of the ultraviolet “spectrum”. To obtain the best level of protection of your face from both sunburn and age-inducing damage always use a sunscreen labeled Broad Spectrum Protection with an SPF of at least 30.