Finally, after what seemed to be the longest winter on record (and definitely the coldest), some sunshine is starting to arrive in our wee climate. Not only that, but we’ll soon be moving our clocks forward to enjoy an extra hour of daylight. Nice one!
There is a common misconception that sunlight is always bad for you, and in particular, your skin. But like most things in life, sunlight is good if it’s consumed in moderation. For most people, it creates a feeling of cheer and a feeling of wellness, and its effect on other forms of life are evident, especially now when we enter the Spring. Sunlight is the body’s main way of obtaining Vitamin D which helps to contribute to healthy bones and a healthy nervous system, and it helps to increase the production of endorphins in the brain leading to that feeling of cheer. Its tanning properties also help to make you look healthier, and who doesn’t want to look better?
So what’s all the fuss about and why do some people think that sunshine is a bad thing to be around?
The answer is simple; Too much sunshine can cause damage to the skin. It might not be immediately evident, but sunlight is a contributing factor involved in the ageing process. Its ultraviolet light penetrates through your skin and speeds up the breakdown of the youthful substance that keeps your skin taut, collagen. Collagen is like elastic and its breakdown can be likened to an elasticated trouser waist. When the elastic is pulled tight, you get a smooth surface but once the tension is released, you get wrinkles. Over a period of prolonged sun exposure, which can be anything from a few hours to a few decades, the same thing happens with your skin. So excessive sun exposure leads to premature ageing.
Ageing isn’t the only issue with overexposure to the sun’s rays. Painful sunburn, cataracts, skin cancers and even cold sores can be triggered by its radiation so we need to strike the right balance between too much and too little sunlight.
With so many health scares over the years related to sunlight, many people have decided to avoid it altogether and somewhat surprisingly, more than half the UK population has insufficient levels of vitamin D. This can result in a number of health concerns too.
There are lots of ways to ensure you get just the right amount of sunlight. Based on our generally light coloured skin, experts advocate ten minutes per day of sunshine on our skin to generate sufficient levels of vitamin D, although people with darker skin may require more sunlight to generate the same levels of the vitamin. And when you’ve reached your quota of sunlight, make sure you cover up, and use skincare products which contain a sunscreen to slow down the ageing process and protect your skin from sun damage.
So now that the Spring rays are almost upon us, get out there and enjoy the sun (in moderation of course!).