UV Rays & Premature Aging - Avoid Sun Damage Naturally
by: Danielle Winston
August 28, 2021
Aging may be inevitable, but the process isn’t the same for everyone. Intrinsic aging refers to natural body changes through the passage of time and heredity. In many ways, extrinsic aging is the opposite since it results from external influences. Things like diet, pollutants, stress levels, and lifestyle choices, each play a role in extrinsic aging. It’s not surprising that the leading cause of ‘growing old before your time’ comes from the sun, also known as photoaging. Oxidative stress, caused by ultraviolet rays, interferes with, and slows down your body's ability to absorb and produce collagen. The result being fine lines, brown spots, sagging, wrinkles, and more.
Consider that telomeres (sequences on the tips of DNA) also play a crucial role in aging with relation to sunlight. When these tips become shorter, the aging process is accelerated. Research shows that short telomeres can actually grow longer again, by implementing certain positive habits, such as a healthy diet, meditation, and exercise. However, when your skin is exposed to the sun, and oxidative damage occurs, it harms DNA and causes telomere shortening. Keep in mind that, even with sunscreen, ultraviolet fragments still leak through and cause free radical damage.
Here's where antioxidants fit in. Free radicals are incomplete atoms and molecules seeking a partner (healthy electrons) from your skin. When this happens, it causes harm to cells, leading to oxidative stress. The beautiful thing about antioxidants is, they offer up their own electrons, and shield you from free radical damage. Depending on which antioxidants you choose, benefits vary. When used topically, apply at least an hour before sunscreen to allow for absorption.
Kat Burki on vacation, shown here, loves the healing effect of her Bio Correcting crème after she has been in the sun.
Kat Burki's Pro B Repair Collection, crafted with KB5 complex, Niacinamide, vitamin C, and Astaxanthin, “is wonderful for Sun, particularly after sun,” says Burki. The unique formulations create a synergistic effect... “All B vitamins are utilized (instead of just one), as B vitamins work even better together as amino acid building blocks and are actually the vitamins responsible for all protein repair (nails, hair and skin).” To “further reinforce the skin as a protective firming shield, once the B’s and other supporting players have repaired the skin,” Burki added neuropeptides to her line, and calls, “Our skin (and body) a renewal and repairing machine.”
Niacinamide (B3) (Nicotinamide)
This is a powerhouse antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and is suitable for all skin types. It helps skin retain moisture that would normally evaporate, boosts the production of collagen, softens, and reduces premature fine lines and wrinkles. According to Dermatologist, Dr. Keira Barr, author of the book The Skin Whisperer, Niacinamide “not only boosts the immune system’s ability to repair DNA, but also reduces UV-induced immunosuppression,” plus, it’s “proven to have beneficial effects on acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and now skin cancer.”
Naturally found in red wine, grapes and berries, Dr Barr says, “benefits are significant — including anti-aging, sun protection, reducing inflammation and cancer prevention. A challenge with resveratrol is bioavailability. It is rapidly metabolized, meaning it disappears from the bloodstream very quickly.” Instead of taking supplements, Barr advises applying Resveratrol topically to skin, for optimum absorption.
This super carotenoid comes from microalgae and, according to Dr Barr, “It's 10 times as potent as beta-carotene, and 100 times stronger than vitamin E in its anti-inflammatory capabilities.” Taken in supplement form, through skin care, or consumed in food, Astaxanthin “has been shown to protect against UVA-induced DNA damage.” If you're looking to add more to your diet, she says look out for red and pink pigmented, “Salmon, crab, lobster shrimp, as they get their color from eating an astaxanthin-rich algae diet.”
Vitamin E and C
“Vitamin C plays an important role in the synthesis of collagen and elastin, and vitamin E plays a role in preventing collagen breakdown.” Dr. Barr recommends using them topically daily, since along with fighting free radicals, they are “anti-inflammatory, strengthen the skin's protective barrier, and improve overall tone and texture.”
Depending on which you choose, antioxidant oils can spoil fast, and lose potency if not processed and shipped properly. Always seek out cold pressed oils, and store in a cool dark place. If you have sensitive skin, add a mild carrier oil such as almond, grapeseed, or apricot.
Pomegranate Seed Oil
Contains vitamin C and K and is rich in fatty acids. This antioxidant oil is highly moisturizing, better suited for dry skin. It also has neuroprotective, anti-cancer, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Prickly Pear Oil
Naturally antibacterial, it contains vitamin K and amino acids, and has been studied for anti-inflammatory, anti-aging effects, and its ability to repair and protect skin.
Olive & Coconut Oil
In addition to antioxidant effects, both are gentle, soothing, antibacterial, and have a natural SPF of about 7.
Natural home made sunscreen with zinc
While there’s been much debate about whether sunscreen inhibits the body’s ability to produce vitamin D, a scientific study found that wearing sunblock did not prevent natural D production. Always seek out environmentally safe sun protection, that won't leach chemicals into your bloodstream. Dr. Barr recommends, “A zinc and/or titanium dioxide-based sunscreen, with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, on all exposed areas. Use 1 ounce to cover the body (neck down) and 1 tsp for the face,” and remember to “reapply after 2 hours or sooner if sweating or swimming.” Additionally, “keep your eyes and eyelids covered (skin cancer can occur here too) with UV-filtering sunglasses.”
Kat Burki’s “Power trio oil is an important sun-friendly product,” says Burki. Formulated to nurture skin on multiple levels, “it’s recommended as the last step in our five steps to Essential Radiance. Not only does the oil lock in the antioxidants and ingredients in the line, but it also acts as a natural sun block,” says Burki, who elaborates, “Tamanu Oil contains polyphenols that have proven antioxidant and cell protective effects and protects the cells from UV damage - with an SPF of 18-22. Kukui nut oil also protects the skin from sun damage - it is a potent burn-healer used on burn victims. It contains essential fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants that heal and protect the skin at the deepest layer. Raspberry seed oil offers an SPF of 8 against UVA rays and 28-50 against UVB.” Without any additives, these three oils are the only ingredients in the Power Trio Oil. It's no wonder Burki calls it, “a sun protection trifecta.”
Thankfully, with increasing awareness, there are effective ways to prevent photoaging. Be mindful that, even inside, rays can shine through windows, and bounce off mirrors. Just because you don’t see sunlight, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. A gloomy overcast afternoon is still capable of causing sun damage, so protect accordingly. Time of day is critical too: sun is at its strongest between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Ultimately, a healthy and balanced approach to sun care works best. Slight adjustments in daily habits can make a powerful difference in how you age. That may mean opting for a walk on the shady side of the street or starting a wide-brimmed hat collection. Whenever possible, consume an antioxidant-rich diet, lessen sugar and alcohol intake (that can deplete skin), prioritize sleep, exercise, and reduce stress: all habits that promote healthy telomere growth and optimal body function.
Dr. Keira Barr Instagram