You most likely know the importance of using sunscreen to prevent sun induced hyperpigmentation and how antioxidants and vitamin A regulate the formation of melanin preventing hyperpigmentation, but did you know that wearing broad spectrum UV sunglasses help prevent hyperpigmentation as well? Thats right it all starts in the eyes. Let's talk about how each of these protect our skin.
One should never underestimate the importance of daily protection from UV rays. Sunscreen is likely the first product we think of when preventing hyperpigmentation. Sunscreen ingredients are either physical or chemical. Physical sunscreens which are titanium oxide or zinc oxide are safer and more effective than chemical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens, a good example being Parasol 1789, should be no more than a SPF of 15 since they can become free radicals themselves by absorbing UV rays and thus become damaging instead of protective for the skin.
Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, are a second line of defense because even when using sunscreen some UV rays will still manage to penetrate and damage your skin. Because UVA light activates free radicals, again very damaging to the skin, it is important to use antioxidants, which are free radical scavengers, along with your sunscreen.
Vitamin A is key in protecting from UV damage by protecting the DNA in the skin cells. This not only helps sun induced photo damage (hyperpigmentation) but also protects against skin cancer.
So how do sunglasses protect against hyperpigmentation? UV protecting sunglasses are really your first line of defense. As light enters through the eye it stimulates the pituitary gland. (The pituitary gland, a very small gland located behind your eyes and in front of your brain, is connected to the optic nerve. The pituitary gland is very sensitive to sunlight that comes in through the optic nerve). The entering light activates the MSH (melanin stimulating hormone) which is the primary stimulus for the formation of melanin. The light coming in sets off a chemical reaction of amino acids which converts to melanin then transfers from the melanocyte (melanin cell) to the keratinocyte (skin cells) which can results in hyperpigmentation i.e. tan, freckles or age spots.
So when we do not wear sunglasses, our skin produces more melanin.When choosing sunglasses, be sure to get those with 100% UV protection. Larger frames are better. Controlling the initial stimulus goes a long way to preventing hyperpigmentation caused by UV light.
Wrapping up: Hyperpigmentation is best prevented since it can be difficult to treat. Daily use of sunscreen, antioxidants, vitamin A and wearing UV protection sunglasses is you best defense against unwanted and difficult to treat hyperpigmentation.
Contact Kathy: KathyRonning@Icloud.com
My passion for skin care is rooted in my love for science and education. I love learning and I love teaching. Skincare is an ever changing and evolving field so it is both interesting and challenging staying current with new ingredients and modalities.
I have been a licensed esthetician since 2004. I have worked in a variety of medical environments utilizing many different skin care lines and esthetic modalities. I have been a licensed esthetic instructor and taught at Johnson County Community College Esthetics Program for seven years. I continue be be involved in education by serving on the JCCC cosmetology/esthetics advisory committee.
I am currently working in a medical spa where I have been practicing for five years. I stay current by attending continuing education seminars on a regular basis along with personal research and study of trends in the industry. I take my responsibility of being a skin care expert very serious and I am privileged to serve my clients and serve as a resource for other professionals in the industry.