Welcome to the Coastal Laser and Aesthetics blog! Here, you’ll find articles about laser treatments, skin rejuvenation, body contouring technologies, wellness tips and more! Our clinic is committed to providing high-quality results using non-surgical cosmetic procedures performed with the latest skincare technology. Refreshed, healthy skin is an important aspect of optimal health and self-esteem. That’s why we’re happy to help our patients achieve their aesthetic goals! Most of our procedures are quick, with minimal downtime and side effects. Our site features a full list of services, active promotions, discounts, and reviews. We encourage you to take a look around and familiarize yourself with our highly-trained staff.
Our last article explored the connection between aesthetic care and mental health. While our day could easily be derailed by an errant pimple, the link between aesthetics and our emotional wellbeing goes far deeper than this. We took a look at a few scientific studies to answer the question: How can aesthetic care serve to improve our self-image and bolster our self-esteem? The pandemic took a toll on our way of life, including how we care for ourselves. According to one study, those who discontinued their simple cosmetic care routine experienced significant psychological impacts, including increased irritability and stress. Likewise, the treatment of perceived blemishes was linked to decreased appearance-related stress. To read more about the science behind aesthetic care, check out our last article! Coastal Laser and Aesthetics is dedicated to the mental and physical wellness of every individual who walks through our doors. In addition to helping you achieve the healthy, smooth skin you’re wanting, we also hope you leave our clinic feeling rejuvenated all-around!
Today, we’re discussing how sun exposure can damage the skin. If you’re active in the skincare community, then you’ll know the number one rule is: Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen protects from the harmful UVA and UVB rays within sunlight. However, what happens when you don’t? We’ve all forgotten to tack sunscreen onto our seven-step skincare routine once or twice. Or, forgone sunscreen altogether because “it’s cloudy outside.” We want to give you a brief overview of how the sun’s rays affect your skin over time. By understanding the processes by which sun exposure leads to skin damage or worse, you might think twice before skipping applying sunscreen next time. We’ll also provide a few extra tips–other than sunscreen–for protecting your skin from sun damage. If you’re interested in learning more, read on!
Sunlight: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Sunlight is good for us, to an extent. Truthfully, we need sunlight. Exposure to sunlight helps regulate our circadian rhythm–the internal clock which determines the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Our bodies also convert sunlight into vitamin D, a prohormone essential for the strength of our bones and teeth, the regulation of insulin, and the health of our nervous system. When we fail to receive enough sunlight, we can become depressed and lethargic, a condition which commonly occurs in wintertime and is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Therefore, sunlight plays a vital role in both our mental and physical wellbeing.
That said, if you’ve ever experienced sunburn, you know sunlight can be harmful in high doses. This is because sunlight is composed of invisible and visible rays. The visible rays brighten our days and make us excited to spend time outdoors. The invisible rays are responsible for the heat we feel from the sun. Now, “ray” is simply another term for “wave.” There are various types of waves and, depending on their length, they can be harmful or innocuous. Radio waves have the longest wavelength and, when used for television and radios, are harmless. Ultraviolet waves have much shorter wavelengths and, when absorbed the the skin, can be quite harmful. UVA waves are longer than UVB waves, which allows them to travel more deeply into the skin. UVB rays, for the most part, are responsible for sunburns.
Now, there are waves even more powerful than ultraviolet. The frequency of ultraviolet waves is, in fact, the lowest frequency which causes electrons to eject from molecules. Why is this important? Well, for plants, this is important because it’s how they use sunlight to produce food. For us, this is important because ejecting electrons can break chemical bonds. Our DNA, held within each of our cells, can be split when the electrons eject. When our DNA is split, a portion of our genetic code becomes inaccessible to the cell. When our skin absorbs UVA and UVB rays, this electron frenzy damages our cells. When our skin attempts to heal, either by shedding dead cells or creating new ones, lost genetic codes can make things difficult. When you experience a bad sunburn and your skin peels, this is your skin sloughing off the outermost layer of dead skin cells, killed by excess sun exposure.
While most of us are aware sun exposure can lead to premature aging, most of us aren’t aware how. The skin naturally undergoes an aging process, as our bodies begin to produce less collagen and elastin–the proteins responsible for plump and elastic skin–after we turn twenty-five. Additionally, as we age, our skin struggles to repair itself as quickly as it once did. The damage which occurs when our skin is exposed to UVA and UBA occurs much deeper within the skin than you might think. As we previously mentioned, UVA rays have a longer wavelength and thus travel deeper into the skin’s dermis before being absorbed. When this absorption occurs, collagen and elastic fibers can be destroyed, resulting in photoaging. Photoaging can take years to fully express itself but is characterized by premature wrinkling, loss of skin elasticity, skin thinning, age spots/liver spots/freckles, rough skin, spider veins, and redness.
Everyone experiences sun damage on some level, to some degree, but we each have a different risk level. For example, pale-skinned, light-eyed people with red or blonde hair are considered Type I and the most vulnerable to photodamage. Meanwhile, dark-brown or black-skinned people who tan but do not burn are considered Type VI and the least vulnerable to photodamage. The melanin within darker skin is responsible for this distinction, as melanocytes shield the skin. When you develop a tan, your body is producing extra melanocytes to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. This is not to say dark-skinned people should not wear sunscreen or worry about developing skin cancers.
Remember how we explained the photoelectric effect of ultraviolet light can damage DNA strands within our cells? Well, this is how skin cancers begin. Deprived of the necessary code to regulate their function, cells can begin to grow and divide rapidly, creating lesions and tumors. Actinic keratoses are precancerous cells and appear as scaly patches on the skin. These can occur on the face, lips, ears, arms, scalp, hands, and back. People live with these patches for years, but since they can easily become cancerous, you should have them removed. Cancerous lesions and tumors are called malignant, while harmless lesions and tumors are called benign. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma begins in the basal cell, which is responsible for producing new skin cells. This type of cancer is characterized by a white lump or brown scaly patch, a rolled border, or a central ulcer. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the squamous cells, which make up the outermost and middle layers of skin. This type of cancer is characterized by a red nodule or a flat, crusty sore. These can occur anywhere on the body, including the inside of the mouth. Less common but typically considered more serious is melanoma. Melanoma occurs within the melanocytes and can be non-cancerous, such as a birthmark or mole. If you have a family history of melanoma, you are more likely to develop melanoma yourself and should take extra precautions.
In addition to wearing sunscreen, you should try to be conscious of how much time you’re spending in the sun. Limit sun exposure to an hour per day and try to stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, regardless of whether you’re swimming or not. If you find you forget to apply sunscreen regularly, you should invest in a moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher. Protective clothing should be used most days to keep the majority of your skin protected from the sun, along with a hat or visor. Do not lie in tanning beds–tanning lotions or sprays are safer. To verse the effects of photoaging, take care of your skin with a daily facial care routine and invest in laser treatments and chemical peels.
At Coastal Laser and Aesthetics, we care about the health and wellness of your skin. Our clinic is based around skin rejuvenation techniques and treatments using the latest cosmetic technology. We offer skin resurfacing treatments, laser hair removal, chemical peels, Botox, dermal fillers, IPL photofacials, and more! Beautiful, radiant skin begins with a strong foundation of skincare fundamentals and a set of trusted skin care professionals. You can book your free consultation, read up on our services, and browse our active promotions all on our site! Until next time—thank you for reading!