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The Science of Sun Damage

Sun damage is a major cause of premature signs of ageing. Read on to find out how sun damage works, and how Waterhouse Young can help heal your skin.


The Science of Sun Damage

By now, it is common knowledge that the sun can detrimentally damage the skin and contribute to signs of ageing. In places with hot climates like the UAE, this topic is particularly pertinent, as exposure to intense sun is something that people in these areas must deal with every day. But what exactly happens and how is sun damage caused? Here, we examine why sun damage occurs andhow we can better prevent it to aid the appearance of younger, healthier skin.

The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays that damage our skin through radiation. There are two main types that affect us: UVA and UVB. UVA are long-wave rays that affect deeper layers of the dermis. These rays damage the connective tissue and blood vessels, contributing to wrinkling and the appearance of ageing over time. UVB are short-wave rays that cause sunburn and damage in the superficial surface layers of the dermis. Both types ofrays increase melanin production, the darkening pigment in the skin that causes tanning.

Melanin is activated and produced in the skin as a protective measure, since it absorbs damaging UV rays. However, in parts of the body that are most prone to sun exposure, such as the face and hands, skin cells can produce too much melanin in reaction to the sun. These skin cells then group together, creating hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can take the form of age spots, freckles or blotchy dark patches of skin.

It’s important to take steps to prevent sun damage and hyperpigmentation. Wearing sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) is necessary to protect the skin—but did you know that pairing sunscreen with vitamin C is even more effective?Studies show that sunscreens block only 55% of free radical exposure from the sun. Applying topical vitamin C in addition to sunscreen can help fortify the protection from the sun, since vitamin C is known to neutralise free radicals.

Even high SPF sunscreens and topical vitamin C cannot protect against all rays. You will need to take other measures to safeguard your skin, as well. Cover your skin with clothing that’s tightly woven and UV-resistant, wear a hat to keep your face out of the sun and stand in the shade whenever possible. While these may seem like small gestures, they are incredibly important in preventing signs of ageing, and even skin cancer.

Even if you’re practising all the right preventative measures, you may feel that you could do more to correct the sun damage already caused. The experienced aesthetic professionals at the Waterhouse Young clinic in London can help. We begin with an in-depth consultation and computerised skin analysis, which allows us to understand your skin’s individual needs and the extent of sun damage.  We can then create a bespoke treatment plan that addresses your specific concerns. Our ultimate goal is to help you achieve healthy, younger-looking skin and give you the confidence that comes with looking and feeling good.

Hot, sunny climates can make preventing sun damage a daily challenge, but Waterhouse Young provides comprehensive skincare expertise and non-invasive aesthetic treatments that can correct and protect. Book a consultation with one of Waterhouse Young’s aesthetic doctors on your next visit to London to find out how you can rejuvenate your skin after years in the sun.


Waterhouse Young is one of London’s leading medical aesthetic & wellbeing clinics, founded by one of the UK’s top cosmetic surgeons, Norman Waterhouse - former President of the BAAPS. Based off Harley Street, the clinic features regularly in the media, from Vogue, Tatler, Grazia and Elle to The Times. WY’s longstanding, friendly team is highly qualified and offers non-surgical treatments which are safe, proven and deliver demonstrable results, restoring skin and health to the highest standard.