The War Against the Sun

There was once a time not too long ago that reveling in the rays of the sun with bare skin was the norm. People flocked to the outdoors, basking in the sun for hours on end all in an effort to obtain a bronze glow. It was the best fashion accessory; an expression of youthfulness and a certain joie de vivre. At the time, few knew the real dangers of the practice or perhaps ignored them for the sake of vanity.

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Sun exposure is considered to be one of the main culprits in the aging process. It can be blamed for a number of problems afflicting the skin from minor cosmetic problems to more severe diseases that can be life threatening. The following are some of the most common:

The cause of all of these problems can be directly linked to the cumulative effects of sun exposure throughout an individual's lifetime.

The disintegration of healthy skin cells is caused by ultraviolet radiation. Emitted by the sun, there are three types of ultraviolet rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Vitamin A, an antioxidant responsible for the neutralization of free radicals, is destroyed by UVA and UVB, while all types break down collagen and skin cells by adversely affecting DNA directly or indirectly. They also impair the skin's ability to repair itself.

But there's no need to become heliophobic and avoid the sun at all costs. Humans need some exposure to ultraviolet radiation in order to thrive. Getting a little sun is one of the easiest ways to get your daily dose of vitamin D, necessary to prevent weak bones and some types of cancer.

The ozone layer effectively blocks the penetration of UV radiation by about 98%, however it is quickly thinning out due to the environmental changes caused by man. While the sun kissed look is still considered attractive by many, these days, protecting your skin against the sun and its UV rays isn't just an afterthought, it's become a priority and just common sense. Sun worshipper or not, covering up and applying sunscreen that protects against all UV rays before going outside may be the best way to fend off the signs of aging.