Do You Look Older Than Your Age?

Are you worried about your wrinkles, saggy skin or even pigmentation? Many women do not know that 90% of aging is caused by factors that they can actually control. For example, by being excessively exposed to the sun this will cause the skin to change its structure resulting in fast aging. You can actually delay your skin from aging fast by applying sun screen daily, wearing a hat, arm sleeves and using an umbrella whenever you are in the sun.

 Why Do We Have Different Skin Colour

Basically, people have different skin colour due to the different amount and types of melanin produced in skin which is controlled by genes. Melanin is produced by the special cells in the skin named as melanocytes which are found scattered at the superficial layer (the upper most layer) of the skin called epidermis.

Many believed that people with darker complexion will have more melanocytes. But this is not true. All of us have the same amount of melanocytes – regardless of our skin colour. However, it is the melanocytes that produce the different amount of melanin to determine our skin colour! And, the amount of melanin produced is controlled by our genes factor.

Melanin is an important defence system in our skin to protect our body against the ultraviolet (UV) radiation and other harmful rays. It protects our skin cells from damaging the DNA which may eventually lead to skin cancer. 

Fair-skinned people produce less amount of melanin, and may get old more easily. On the other hand, dark-skinned people produce more amount of melanin – so the darker your skin is, the more melanin you will have. As such, darker-skinned people will have greater ability to withstand the potential damages of the UV rays and other dangerous radiation. And that is why, dark-skinned people are less prone to premature skin aging and skin cancers 

What is Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation? 

The sun produces three important elements such as the visible light, heat and UV rays. UV is a form of energy that is not visible to the human eye with its spectrum providing both beneficial and harmful effects to the human. UV rays stimulate the formation of Vitamin D which helps to regulate calcium to strengthen the bones and boost our body immune system. However, the harmful effects are more profound to the human being – such as long exposure to the sun may result in suntan, burnt skin, skin pigmentations and a higher risk of skin cancer.

Fast Facts:

• UV rays are not just from the sun light. They are also from man-made UV sources i.e specialised lighting and tanning lamps, UV lamps, mercury lamps, etc.
• There are three types of UV rays according to their wavelength. Different wavelength has different skin penetration level and biological damage to the skin.
• The shorter the wavelength is, the lesser the skin penetration but more harmful: 

UVA – the longest wavelength, accounts for 95% of the UV rays reaching the earth surface. It penetrates deep into the skin causing aging, wrinkles and skin pigmentation.
UVB – medium wavelength, reaching only the outer layer of the skin. Does not penetrate deep, but causes sun burn and skin cancer.
UVC – shortest wavelength, most harmful to the skin. However, it is completely filters by the ozone layer in the atmosphere.

• Many light bulbs commonly used at home and workplace also do emit UV rays that are much lower doses compared to the sun ray. However, frequent exposure on daily basis may also affect the skin.

 What Are Skin Pigmentation Disorders

Melanin is normally produced and distributed evenly in the skin, regulated by a group of hormones called Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone (MSH). However, when the melanocytes become damage or unhealthy, they may affect the production of melanin to be concentrated in certain patches or spots of the skin where the skin pigmentation disorders are usually found. 

Various factors that affect the MSH level and melanin production can be classified into three main groups:

• Genetic Factor
• Environmental Factors i.e. sun exposure, drugs, etc.
• Diseases

In Asia, there are several common types of skin pigmentation disorders suffered by most women here. They include:

• Freckles
• Age Spots
• Melasma
• ABNOM

Freckles are skin cells that contain pigment – usually appear as tiny dots on our skin, with very high concentration of melanin. They are more common among fair-skinned people and they usually appear on the facial area as well as sun-exposed areas like the shoulders and arms.

Fair-skinned people tend to have more freckles than most dark-skinned people. Freckles are naturally inherited through the family genes. They are not harmful and these freckles are usually triggered by the exposure to the sun light which stimulates the melanocytes to produce more melanin and to be distributed unevenly in the skin. 

Through sun exposure, the sun light will cause the freckles to appear even darker. Thus usually after sun exposure, far-skinned people often develop freckles instead of getting an even tan like people with darker complexion. The good news is that, freckles tend to appear lesser and fade away as one gets older. 

To prevent freckles from possible appearance, you can apply good sunscreen protector (broad spectrum physical sunscreen) of at least 50 SPF. Some freckles may even fade with the reduction of sun exposure. That is why in the western country, you may see that freckles are faded almost completely during winter and they start to reappear again in the summer. 

However, if you are now having many freckles on your face or body, you need not to worry. With today’s technology and efficient beauty experts, freckles can be easily removed using laser treatment - visible results of a renewed and clearer complexion can be seen after just one or two sessions!