Summer is here, and as the festive season approaches, we anticipate plenty of beach days and lazy afternoons next to the pool.
We all know unprotected sun exposure is bad news for our skin. It’s the primary cause of premature ageing and can easily lead to skin cancer. But did you know that it also damages your DNA? The destruction it wrecks is two-fold – direct and indirect – so strap in for a crash course in molecular biology that’ll blow your mind as well as help you better understand why the sunscreen you’re using may not be the best protection you can get.
In a nutshell, indirect UV damage is caused by free radicals run amok. These rogue, cell-damaging atoms are created by sun exposure as well as other external factors like air pollution and cigarette smoke. Fortunately, applying topical antioxidants can limit their warpath – but only to an extent. Sometimes, an intermediatory compound like oxygen will absorb UV energy to enjoy a piggyback ride directly to your DNA where it’ll do what does best – attack! In this case, applying a topical antioxidant will be futile.
Direct UV damage is a more straightforward attack, occurring when sunlight smashes directly into your DNA. The damage it causes can best be described as a “kink”, but your dermatologist will probably refer to it as dimer. (Interestingly, indirect UV damage can cause a DNA dimer too!) These kinks can be extremely dangerous as they can lead to DNA mutations – and not the awesome X-Men kind – as well as many types of cancer.
How your body fights back
When you consider the molecular level onslaught we face every day, it’s no surprise your body fights back, performing a type of “cellular surgery” known as nucleotide excision repair (NER). While it sounds complicated, we can explain it simply. Imagine that your DNA is a train track and all those injuries and mutations are broken boards. As for the train, it’s a reparative protein called P53 that travels up and down the tracks searching for any damage. When it finds it, good ole’ “Dr P” snips out the broken board and your DNA “track” knits itself back together again. Clearly, your body’s an amazing machine, but things aren’t always that simple. Over time, direct UV damage significantly reduces the markers that flag P53 to stop and operate. Worse yet, direct UV damage can create a wobble in your DNA’s “track”, causing your P53 to, quite literally, go off the rails.
Take a look at the video below to see Lamelle Medical Director, Dr Bradley Wagemaker, explain – in the simplest terms – what exactly the sun does to your skin when you tan.
If you’re wearing sunscreen every day, good for you. If it’s got antioxidants in it, even better. However, as we said, it’s not going to protect you from all the free radicals caused by indirect sun damage. It’s also certainly not going to correct any damaged DNA. But this is where Lamelle Helase 50+ (R525.00) comes in. Not only does it serve up broad-spectrum protection thanks to an SPF of 50, it has the unique ability to correct the dimers caused by free radical damage as well as those caused by direct UV damage. How? Helase 50+ is the only sunscreen to contain 80GG-1, an enzyme that can repair free radical-induced damage to the rungs of your DNA. This allows your P53 to run smoothly as well as stop to operate whenever it finds something requiring a fix. It also contains Photolyase, another incredible naturally-occurring enzyme, that can correct the dimers caused by direct UV damage.
DNA damage-fixers aside, Helase is also the only sunscreen to protect you from the full spectrum of sunlight. Better yet, it contains a host of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories as well as ingredients that prevent sun-induced immunosuppression, fight inflammation and preserve your skin’s collagen content.
In short, if you’re using a sunscreen every day, it’s a wonderful start. But, if you’re wanting to protect yourself from both types of UV damage – indirect as well as direct – Helase 50+ is the very best defence you can get!