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It is because they damage our skin cells by altering their membrane and breaking their DNA chain that ultraviolet rays accelerate skin ageing. We do have a repair system for DNA, but this one is ineffective once our solar capital has been exhausted by the sun. Consequently:
- The cells, which are no longer able to function correctly, start to produce less melanin, collagen and elastin. The skin grows fragile, thinner, drier and therefore becomes less elastic. Wrinkles start to appear.
- Sun spots appear from an over-production of melanin by the melanocytes.
Damage caused by the sun is such that it seems that the sun is the most significant skin ageing factor of all.
Sun damage to skin according to your age
- There is a classification, called the Glogau classification, which describes the evolution of spots caused by the sun.
- At stage 1, from 28 to 35 years old, photo-ageing is light. The texture of the skin is slightly uneven and the skin can lack radiance. There is no skin sagging and only a few wrinkles appear.
- At stage 2, between 35 and 50 years of age, photo-ageing is moderate. Lentigos (skin spots) appear. Keratosis (thickening of the skin) cannot be seen but is perceptible to the touch. There is still no, or only little skin sagging. Superficial wrinkles appear. Any anomalies of circulation and pigmentation are mild.
- At stage 3, between 50 and 65 years of age, photo-ageing is advanced. Keratosis is visible: we talk about hyperchromia. Skin sagging is moderate and some wrinkles are visible. Anomalies of circulation and pigmentation are important.
- At stage 4, between 65 and 75 years of age, photo-ageing is severe. Wrinkles are marked and actinic keratosis (or solar keratosis, the thickening of the skin due to the sun) appears. Cancerous lesions are possible. Skin sagging is significant and wrinkles are deep and widespread. Anomalies of circulation and pigmentation are significant.
This evolution, even if it is inevitable, can still be considerably slowed down if one adopts the precautionary measures in regards to sun.