Sunshine and ‘Sun-stress’.


Beauty is a balance between culture and health. Skin care and protection are required daily. The ultraviolet rays during sunbathing remain a stress and skin requires increased protection from appropriate lotions, creams and covers during times of “sun-stress”. Here’s what you need to know.

Woman on hot sunny beach
Sunshine and ‘Sun-stress’.

Sunshine and enjoyment.

There is little doubt that if asked, “what is the most desirable feature in reflecting youth and health it would for many people, be “a flawless (skin) complexion.

Millions upon millions are spent annually on working toward achieving this, as well as not losing that which we already have. Clearly this is an important area of “staying young” or perhaps it would be better to say retaining or achieving the appearance of “staying young” or “staying young looking ”.

Measuring aging

It has always been difficult to assign  a measure on the signs of aging, after all some people just look younger it seems. In advertisements we see “Before’ and “After” photos which ‘May’ or “May not’ reflect what we see.

There are many issues and these act in concert, eyes are another issue (“clear eyes” or “to have a sparkle in your eyes”), teeth (“a youthful smile”) and youthful facial features including dimensions such as width and width, etc.

Beauty, the skin and smile.

For instance, as a dentist I spent some time as a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (there are other  similar associations) and it was clear that a beautiful smile went a long way -even sometimes beyond flawless skin. (Yet in adolescents, flawless skin would seem to take precedence),

I have even heard of a study that had shown how those with youthful smile got better paying jobs, which is quite believable. Incidentally, and we’ll discuss this in the future, but its not just the smile but its relationship to, and support of the soft tissues.

An important concept for cosmetic surgeons is called “tissue drape” which is exactly that, how the soft tissues “drape” or are supported by the hard tissues, for example, the cheek bones.

Skin care

In the quest to achieve perfect skin, consumers of all ages are constantly searching for the “best” skincare products. Whether they shop at drug stores or pharmacists in the UK, department stores, or online, consumers are faced with a myriad of choices but little consistency upon which to measure their effectiveness.

After all, if you can’t measure what you want to change, it’s difficult to measure effectively what changes those things you can’t measure!

‘Sun-stress’ of the skin

Concentrating on the area of skincare specifically, the signs of aging can be attributed outside (extrinsic aging factors) and inside (intrinsic aging factors).

Extrinsic factors are estimated to account for 80% of the visible signs of skin aging and include ultraviolet exposure, atmospheric pollution, harsh skin products and lifestyle choices such as smoking, sleeping positions, diet, and other daily skincare habits. UV radiation causes oxidation and skin aging, the benefits of antioxidants should be considered while considering sun-stress.

Intrinsic skin aging factors is estimated to account for the remaining 20% and include genetically predetermination as well as the influence of overall health, stress and anti-oxidant levels, pigmentation and propensity to develop skin conditions, for example acne, rosacea, or eczema.

Timothy Falla, PhD once made the comment, “Recommending an at-home skincare regimen based on your patient’s individual needs is synergistic with the services cosmetic dermatologists and surgeons provide.

Clinically proven products, formulated with the right ingredients for a specific skin concern and delivered in an aesthetically appealing system, will both maximize the outcome and increase the longevity of benefits from the treatments we provide while empowering the patient to personalize and control their skincare journey.”

Sunbathing and enjoying the sun

However, and somewhat ironically, here in the Western hemisphere, ‘playing in’, ‘laying in’ and ‘enjoying the sun and sunshine’ is associated with a wealth, health culture yet of course sunlight is also a major cause of aging appearance due to this “sun-stress”- so let’s concentrate on protection from the sun.

Sunshine – watch for ‘Sun-stress’.

How many times have you been told, before you eat something “read the label before you eat (or buy) it”, well that’s fine – but it assumes that you know what those ingredients are and what the present belief is, regarding their impact (good or bad) on your body.

As we all know, when it comes to diet for example, one-minute things are bad for you and the next minute they’re good, making it hard for the “normal” person on the street to know what’s best for them.

Similarly, skin care, specifically sunscreen. As far back as 1997, studies showed  sunscreens containing Titanium dioxide (TiO2) had been noted by US Federal Register (1978) to be a safe physical sunscreen because it reflects and scatters UVB and UVA in sunlight.

However, it was shown that TiO2 also absorbs about 70% of incident UV, which when in a water-based (aqueous) mixture leads to the generation of hydroxyl radicals which can initiate oxidations which are associated with the aging process –

This indicates that sunlight‐illuminated TiO2 catalyses DNA damage in human cells. These results would of therefore be relevant to the overall effects of sunscreens using this.

Titanium dioxide is effective for UVB protection

Personal Care (2009) goes on to say that, “ Titanium dioxide is effective for UVB protection. It cannot provide enough UVA protection without sacrificing transparency.”

Zinc oxide in general is not an efficient UVB agent and is not suitable for high SPF products.” So clearly there is an ideal combination sought, using these two UV protectors.

Generally, therefore, “neither can provide high transparency, SPF 30+ and a SPF/PFA ratio of 3 or less. By combining Titanium dioxide (TiO2) optimized for UVB protection and Zinc oxide (ZnO) optimized for UVA protection, such a goal was achieved.

Combination of very fine ZnO and large ZnO with controlled size and the right ratio was also able to provide high and balanced UV protection.”

What this is saying is that we don’t have an ideal yet, but we have now a concept toward which we can work and what we’re trying to accomplish. I’ve added some sunscreen products that reflect this, which you may wish to try.

Obviously skin type, allergies etc. must all be considered but these are commercial products indicating an understanding and appropriate manufacture.

Book with glasses on it - link to article
Why does Australia have so much skin cancer?

In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine, cover yourself where possible and apply appropriate UV protection! Remember to take your anti-oxidants a known preventer of the Redox reaction driving ageing and likely cancer from UV light. Mega doses are inappropriate in my opinion however.


There is very strong evidence that the redox reaction, (or intra-cellular oxidation) plays a significant role in the aging process, and likely some forms of cancer and that antioxidants aid protect the cell against this damage. CLICK ABOVE FOR ANTIOXIDANT PROTECTION

Dr Stephen Bray 2019

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