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Enjoying Your Day in the Sun: Defending Skin from the Inside Out

By: Kimberly Decker
Posted: May 4, 2011, from the May 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

For millennia, civilization has revered the sun for its life-giving light, heat and energy. Only recently has it been learned that it’s also the source of wrinkles, erythema and the DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer. Estimates of the extent to which skin damage is the result from solar radiation run as high as 90%, and you don’t have to be a beach bum to suffer your fair share. It’s those episodic, everyday exposures—en route to the car or taking the dog for a walk, as examples—that add up throughout the years and put both your skin’s health and its appearance at risk.

But if leading an active, healthy lifestyle involves logging serious outdoor time—and it does—people need an effective means of enjoying the sun’s gifts while avoiding its dangers. The more you learn about such benefits to dermal health as, carotenoid antioxidants, the more you learn that your best defense against the damaging effects of the sun may be your own properly nourished skin itself.

Seeing the Light

As frustrating as it may be, some aspects of dermal aging are beyond our control. The passage of time and its wear and tear on the skin are inevitable, as are the genetic changes programmed into our DNA to kick in as we get older. But the aging attributable to environmental stressors such as cigarette smoke, pollution and poor nutrition is largely controllable—as is, given the right preventive measures, the photo-aging attributable to sunlight.

Sunlight spans the spectrum from low-wavelength gamma rays to high-wavelength radio waves—between which lie ultraviolet (UV) light, ranging in wavelength from 290 to 400 nanometers, and the visible spectrum, between 400 and 760 nanometers in wavelength.