Beauty and the Sun

Sunlight has a profound effect on the skin causing premature skin aging, skin cancer, and a host of skin changes. Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA or UVB, from sunlight accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging.

We often associate a glowing complexion with good health, but skin color obtained from being in the sun – or in a tanning booth – actually accelerates the effects of aging and increases your risk for developing skin cancer.

Sun exposure causes most of the skin changes that we think of as a normal part of aging. Over time, the sun's ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers breakdown, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching.  

True or False?

  • Long amounts of UV light exposure cause the breakdown of the elastin and collagen in our skin and contribute to premature aging issues, such as, wrinkles and hyper-pigmentation. (True)
  • UVA rays are rarely the cause of skin cancer and wrinkling. (False)
  • UVB rays do not cause sunburns and freckling. (False)
  • SPF refers only to the protection level from sunburns, meaning that a lot of sunscreens only protect your skin from UVB rays, not UVA. (True)
  • The term BROAD SPECTRUM refers to a sunscreen offering protection from both UVA and UVB rays. (True)
  • There is no need to wear both sunscreen and protective clothing when out in the sun. (False)
  • You do not need to wear sunscreen on cloudy days. (False)
  • If you have dark skin that rarely or never burns, your skin isn’t getting damaged and you don’t need sun protection. (False)
  • UV protection is the only beauty product that can honestly claim it prevents wrinkles, photo-aging, and other side effects of premature aging. (True)
  • Chemical sunscreens take around 25 minutes to work, while physical protection, like sun protective clothing or physical barrier sunscreen (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide), take effect immediately. (True)
  • Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can prevent scalp sunburns and your hair color from fading. (True)

Beauty by the Numbers

  • The average woman spends $50,000 on her hair in her lifetime.
  • Women who color their hair spend an average of $330 a year.
  • The average woman spends $15,000 on makeup in her lifetime.
  • The average woman spends 20 minutes doing her makeup each day, equivalent to 330 days in her lifetime.
  • 10% of Americans spend an average of $300 a year on indoor tanning.
  • Each year, women spend a total of $9 billion on tanning and $3 billion on tanning products.
  • In 2009, Americans spend $10 billion on cosmetic surgery. 85% of those procedures were non-surgical, like Botox.
  • 98% of women 25-54 years of age who visit a dermatologist or plastic surgeon spend up to $500 a year on facial procedures.
  • Americans spend around $12 billion annually on anti-aging products.
  • According to Business Wire, in 2003: total US market for tanning is over $9 billion per year, and does not include the $3 billion tanning products market.

Regardless of your skin tone, sun damage can cause skin cancer and older, damaged looking skin. Even darker skin is susceptible to hyper-pigmentation, wrinkles and sun spots, making skin look uneven.

The most efficient, effective and economical way to preserve your beauty is spend your dollars and time protecting your skin and hair from the ravages of the sun rather than spending money on costly beauty treatments to correct and cover up the damage.

Authors: Catherine McGrath and Mitzi Runyan