40 years of faulty wiring

SPFs, Sunburns, Sunlight and Summer

Do you remember the worst sunburn you’ve ever had? Even if you don’t remember some of the nastiest sunburns you’ve ever had, your skin does and if you are somewhere in your 40’s and over, you are only now beginning to display its effects. And it might get worse. You know why? All that confusing talk about UVA and UVB rays still amounts to one thing: radiation. So far-reaching is a UVA skin burn that it ages your skin and takes its toll for decades after exposure. Watch Quick sunburn relief – sunburn treatment and remedies Meanwhile since then you’ve had lots of exposure to UVA rays: carpooling when you got the window seat and thought you were the lucky one – you didn’t know UVAs were penetrating the glass and damaging your face. Same with driving on your own in the summer. Women wonder why they have red, saggy skin on their cleavage when the whole time they’ve been driving without sunblock on their chests. Discouraging isn’t it? And it is the UVA rays that are mostly responsible for this damage, not as much the UVBs. That’s because:

  1. UVB rays only penetrate the top layer of skin (epidermis), which is about as thick as a silk scarf and has no nerve endings or blood vessels…it has only basal cells and melanocyte cells (you’ll read about the importance of melanocyte shortly)…that’s the layer of skin you are damaging with sunburn.
  2. UVA rays act like a light x-ray – they penetrate to the 2nd layer of skin, the dermis, also called the “true skin” which replenishes and renews itself only once every 28 years. Seriously.   28 years. Watch how to eliminate under eye circles.
  3. We have a 3rd layer of skin that lies beneath the dermis – the hypodermis – but this doesn’t apply to sunburn, rather it is effected by third and fourth degree burns. Interestingly fourth degree burns cause so much damage they are painless.


The dermis is responsible for your face and body’s youthful look and damage to the dermis is what presents as “aging“. The dermis has all the collagen, elastin, blood vessels, and nerve endings in your skin, and prolonged exposure to UVAs cracks and shrinks the collagen and elastin, which in turn reduces the size of the DERMIS. This is what allows the top layer of skin (epidermis) to droop and hang off the face and body. Don’t get mad at the poor epidermis.  If you end up with saggy skin or other permanent blemishes, that’s the dermis talking:

  • Intensive UVA exposure causes blood vessels in the dermis to become permanently dilated (open) and that gives white or light skin a constant red appearance.
  •  The few melanocyte cells in the dermis either die, leaving white spots, or become overactive, leaving brown spots.
  • Watch Burns: Classifications and Treatments

Here’s even more good news: as of now there is no technology guaranteed to remove brown spots and for some people (although not everyone) some procedures make them worse. Watch how to remove brown spots. Remember in the 1980s when sun beds were touted as the safest way to tan because all you got in them was UVA rays? Even some dermatologists bought into that bull. In fact so strong are UVAs that they can penetrate light coloured windbreaker jackets and pants. UVAs penetrate the ozone layer all year round so even though you don’t “tan” in the winter, you are still getting exposure to this most damaging of damned rays. Read UVA-UVB SUN Rays


Thankfully we have protection from the evils of the UVAs (sort of like Raid scaring the bejappers out of bugs on those quacky commercials). Wear sunblock all year, even in winter when it’s sub-zero temperatures outside. How hot or cold it is has nothing to do with the strength of UVAs. During winter, the northern hemisphere turns away from the sun as earth rotates its little, round, fat self on its axis; this is what affects UVA strength and this is why you cannot get a sunburn. However even the earth’s turn away from Mr. Sunshine doesn’t entirely block those powerful UVA rays, so yep, your skin is still getting cooked.  Crazy. Even in spring when it’s raining? you ask. Yep – the weather doesn’t make a difference in damaging the dermis either. Watch does moisturizer with SPF work?


Usually I wear an SPF of 50 – 60. Starting in my early 20’s I used 25 and then into my 30’s it was 30. Now I’m using 110SPF and I have a friend who uses 70SPF.  Guess which one of us is getting the most sun protection? Neither. The person using SPF 30 trumps both of us. No kidding. After SPF 30 sunblock doesn’t get significantly more protective and in fact 50 or over may possibly, although not proven, damage skin in some manner. This is what the research said in the article I enclosed in this blog. Meh. The jury’s out. Here’s something I do sort of believe: you only need 1/3  –  1/4  tablespoon of sunblock to cover your whole face and a “shot glass of sunblock” will do for the body.  One problem: I can’t see how spreading such a minimal amount of sunblock can cover the whole bod, even on a small child. Scientists and their doctorate degrees. Pah. Watch Most common mistake when applying sunscreen.

Lately the protection to seek out in your sunblock isn’t only SPFs. The Japanese have invented a system known as PA, and it rates from one + to three +’s. The PA system indicates protection from UVA rays, thus protection for the dermis. Your ideal PA content is PA +++. Watch Understanding Sunscreen UVA ratings


June 21, 2011 - Posted by | Human Biology | , ,

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