We’re with you. On every single even-slightly clear day, it is so, so tempting to sit and soak in all that sunshine, whether it's spring, summer, winter or fall. But fair warning: any unprotected sun exposure tempts negative consequences for your skin. That's why we asked Dr. David Orentreich, Clinique Guiding Dermatologist, for a little Sun 101:
The Wink: Why worry about sunlight?
Dr. Orentreich: Every cell in our body contains a copy of our genetic code. The genetic code is made up of DNA and is analogous to the software of a computer. If something damages that software, the computer will malfunction. Ultraviolet (UV) light is capable of damaging this DNA ‘software’ in our cells. UV light may not be as potent as x-rays, but it is in the same family, so it can penetrate the skin surface and cause damage.
TW: What do the different UV rays do to skin?
Dr. O: Longer wavelength UV light is called UVA; think of these as the ‘Aging’ rays. They can penetrate deeper than shorter-wavelength UVB rays, thereby damaging the supports that give skin its youthful bounce. UVB is aptly named since its best-known effect is Burning. And remember, even during the colder months, the amount of ‘silent’ UV rays coming into contact with skin is almost the same as in mid-summer.
TW: What’s my best defense?
Dr. O: Wear a sunscreen that helps protects your skin from UVA and UVB all year long. Look for the phrase ‘broad spectrum.’ I tell my patients to apply a water-resistant formula liberally and evenly to exposed areas before going into the sun. Reapply every 2 hours in the sun, or every 40 minutes after swimming or perspiring.
Clinique Guiding Dermatologist Dr. David Orentreich is an internationally recognized innovator of treatments that create vital, healthy skin at every age. In his New York City clinical practice, he strives to make the latest science simple, gentle and effective, following the lead of his father, Dr. Norman Orentreich, Clinique’s original Formulating Dermatologist.