Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sun Rays: Harmful or Beneficial? by Natalie Katsman

The argument never stops.

Human skin has special cells, melanocytes. These cells provide
natural, built-in sun protection. You can see it in action each
time you tan. Melanocytes produce dark brown substance, called
melanin, which does not allow sun rays to penetrate deep into
the skin layers as it would be damaging. At the same time sun
light stimulates cell generation, skin becomes thicker, and
therefore more resistant to UV rays.
Turns out the sun is actually good for the skin.

Well... People with fair skin don't have enough melanin
producing cells, their sun protection mechanism is not strong,
and these people get sun burns pretty quickly. UV rays have a
very strong biological effect, they can damage protein
molecules and even alter genetic material causing healthy cells
become malignant.
So tanning is bad.

Could say so, but... Sun energy is good for health. Increased
blood flow to the skin stimulates cell regeneration, helps to
fight acne, smooth scars and minor skin imperfections. Sun
light is a necessary factor for Vitamin D production. Sun
stimulates immune system and makes us feel happier and

So where is the truth? As always, in the middle.

Human body needs sun, but at the same time it must be
protected. To make contacts with sun enjoyable (as they should
be), remember:
- The most dangerous sun is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Sun rays penetrate glass windows, so being in the sunny spot
inside your house or while driving is just as dangerous as
being outside.
- Don't be deceived by cold weather or clouds: clouds let UV
rays through, and UV radiation is not felt as heat.
- Water won't prevent sunburns as the harmful rays can
penetrate water three feet deep.

Wearing sunblock at all times is the best thing you can do for
your skin. Apply it 20-30 minutes before going outside so that
the lotion absorbs and starts working. People with lighter skin
should take extra precautions: wear hats, avoid direct sun
exposure, use sunblock with a higher SPF and reapply it more
often (remember, your skin does not have a strong sun
protection mechanism, so it needs your help).

UV exposure is a major factor of premature skin aging. Sun rays
are able to penetrate deep into the skin, dehydrate it and
damage collagen tissues. Free radical damage may not stop
there. Free radicals, the unstable molecules that appear during
sun exposure, can damage healthy cells and lead to cancer.

Skin has a wonderful ability to repair itself and fight off the
damage, but it needs proper nutrition to be able to do it

To help your skin repair itself more successfully, use products
that contain antioxidans able to halt the destructive activity
of free radicals.

Vitamin C, when applied topically, not only neutralizes free
radicals, it boosts skin's ability to repair itself after the
sun damage (American Academy of Dermatology, 2002 meeting). It
is also shown to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and help to
maintain an even skin tone.

Coenzyme Q10 is another powerful antioxidant. It is found in
beef, fish, grains, eggs, beans, and spinach. Human body makes
its own CoQ10, but the production declines with age. Coenzyme
Q10 has exceptional antioxidant properties. Studies show that
it can effectively counteract free radical damage and provide
significant protection against UVA-induced depletion of cell
membrane. In other words, it will prevent damage to collagen
and elastin production and help you avoid wrinkles.

Omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid) is essential for
healthy looking skin. Some studies suggest that it may inhibit
cancer. Fish oil and many plant oils (canola, flaxseed, hemp,
soybean) are rich in this acid. In cosmetics it is present
either as a constituent of another ingredient (for example: Emu
oil) or by itself.

Vitamins E helps to prevent skin dryness and protects against
environmental factors and free radical damage. It is used in
creams and lotions that relieve skin redness after sun

So stock up with skin armoring lotions, enjoy your summer and
keep your skin safe and beautiful. And if you would like to
have a bronze tan all over, get one in a bottle.

Natalie Katsman is a co-founder of,
where you can find fine quality aloe vera products for beauty and well-being and subscribe to HealthySkin Newsletter filled with beauty tips, recipes
and information on herbal healing, skin care and cosmetic chemistry.

This article courtesy of
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Originally Posted on 5/25/2005 4:21:50 PM


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