The holy grail of anti-aging skin care – Sun Protection

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Having lived and worked in London for 2 years, I could now understand and appreciate the beauty, the warmth, the colour and the life that the sun brings! Sun lovers tend to focus on the goodness of sun exposure and cite the need for vitamin D, which promises strong joints and bones. They never thought much about the bad effects of sun exposure.

Most sun damage is cumulative in our lifetime. Besides causing premature ageing, sun exposure may lead to diseases such as skin cancer and the deadly melanoma. Fortunately, it is never too late to be wise about sun protection. Just make sure you follow the right sun-protection routine to keep your skin youthful and glowing. Use sunscreen with an SPF ( Sun Protection Factor) of at least 25 for everyday use, and 50 for sports.

A truck driver with cumulative sun damage on the left side of his face after driving for 28 years

When it comes to ageing, sun damage tops the list. UV rays penetrate deep into the skin to cause skin ageing by damaging the collagen. It also generates a lot of free radicals to damage the gene, the proteins and the cells leading to the formation of wrinkles, photodamaged skin and even cancer.

Pigmentation caused by overexposure to the sun is another common complaint, especially among Asian women. Careful sun protection alone can diminish the appearance of pigmentation disorders like sunspots and freckles.

Comparing the skin of sun protected abdomen and sun exposed forearm

Most sunscreens contain both physical and chemical filters. Physical filters reflect the sun rays like a mirror while chemical filters absorb UV rays and prevent them from penetrating deeper into the skin. If you would like to have some extra protection while doing sports, you could take an oral suncare tablet like Heliocare oral capsules and choose swimwear / sportswear with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). But remember, there is still no substitute for applying appropriate sunscreen.

In general, moisturizers formulated with SPF tend to be weaker than dedicated sunscreens. Makeup with SPF contains some physical filters, but the protection is still weak overall. These products should be used together with proper sunscreens for maximum protection.

In my counseling with patients seeking the holy grail of anti-aging skincare, I always tell them to look at their own buttock. Almost 99.99% of the time, the skin there is baby-like and in pristine condition. I am certain that most have not bothered to apply any skin care or do any laser there. But I am also certain that the 2 cheeks there have much better skin than the 2 cheeks above our neck. Most left happy and convinced that I have given them a truthful answer – “Sun Protection is the key to the fountain of youth!”

Dr. Wong Soon Tee

Consultant Dermatologist
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Dr. Wong Soon Tee

Consultant Dermatologist

Care and Professionalism Refined by
Over 20 Years of Dermatology Experience

  • MBBS, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Singapore
  • MRCP. Member of Royal College of Physicians, United Kingdom
  • FAMS, Fellow of Academy of Medicine, Singapore
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, National University of Singapore
  • Visiting Consultant, University Dermatology Division, National University Hospital
  • Visiting Consultant, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Centre, National University Hospital

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