For most of us here, we have been dreaming and praying for a time when the four seasons would surprise us with their arrival in Singapore. Just think about all the fun layering of coats and scarfs that you can play around with in fall or huddling around a fireplace in winter.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, the reality is as such — Singapore is a tropical island that hangs just above the equator, effectively reducing us to two seasons, hot and hotter. You are most welcome to take your pick from the two.
As much as we might clench our fist and grumble about the merciless sun, it is no longer about what we can change about the sun, but what change can the sun inflict on us.
Did you know that every second that you hang out in the sun inflicts some form of damage on your skin? Before you leave the cool confines of your home or office, we pray you reconsider when thinking about these four misconceptions about sun exposure.
Myth No. 1: A Tan Is A Sign of Good Health
What you are attributing to be a sign of good health could just be the opposite. When your skin turns darker after your time in the sun, it is a result of sun damage on your skin. UVB rays are known to induce cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers, which are a type of DNA damage that leads to the production and release of melanin.
In other words, when your skin turns darker, it means your skin cells and your skin structure are getting bombarded by the UVB rays. Most people attribute skin damage to skin peeling or redness, but even if you believe it is just a slight change in skin tone, the damage has already been done.
Myth No. 2: If I’m Dark, I’m Immune from The Sun
To set the record straight, melanin is known for its ability to dissipate over 99.9% of absorbed UV radiation, thus, it is commonly believed that melanin can shield the skin cells from UVB radiation damage. For people with darker skin tone, their skin tone is a result of a higher concentration of melanin.
But if we were to follow this line of thought, it still does not give those with a darker skin tone free rein in the sun. While melanin would protect you, the sun can still inflict damage on your skin.
Because of the darker skin tone, it makes it even more tricky to tell if your skin and its cells are under attack. This often leads to dark-skinned ones taking less precaution and staying in the sun, without the necessary protection and for a much longer time.
Myth No. 3: Sun Exposure in The Early Mornings Is Perfectly OK
Let it be known that UVB rays are the culprits that burn the superficial layers of your skin — each time you get a sunburn or a tan, those are the ones you should direct your anger at. During mid-day, when the sun is at its peak, that is when the UVB rays are extremely high in intensity.
But while the UVB rays are much lower in concentration at the early hours of the day, the UVA rays are out to play for the entire day. These UVA rays can go deep within your dermis and cause premature skin aging (wrinkling, a lack of firmness in skin tissue and pigmentation heterogeneities) if you go about in its presence without sun protection. Even when the sun is not beaming from high above or if is overshadowed by cloudy skies, you still take a serious hit from the UVA radiation.
Myth No. 4: It Is Important to Get Your Vitamin D from The Sun
Raise your hands if you have heard someone going to the beach with the excuse of getting their daily dose of vitamin D. Yes, it is true that vitamin D is acquired from the sun, but all of us only need only a short time in the sun to fulfil our daily vitamin D requirement. To be incredibly honest, most of us meet that need through incidental sun exposure from our commute to our workplace and back.
After a certain amount of exposure to the sun, the body stops converting the UVB rays into vitamin D. The irony is that prolonged UV exposure actually starts breaking down vitamin D, in addition to the increased chance of your skin aging and the risk of contracting skin cancer.
Even if you stay indoors for the entire day, it is still possible to stimulate your body’s production of vitamin D through your diet. Certain food items, like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel and tuna), mushrooms, cod liver oil, milk and eggs are some of those that nourish your body with vitamins.
Here Comes The Sun
If you absolutely have to get out in the sun, your best bet is to try to do it progressively. What is most ideal is to have numerous short exposures, instead of one that spans across hours. A tanned skin does not equate to good skin health and it could even bring on skin cancer.
Most ladies undermine the importance of a strong sunscreen for fear that it may feel sticky when sweat and grime come together, but fact is, there are many sunscreens that have been formulated for those with an active lifestyle.
Before you leave your home, arm yourself with a layer of sunscreen and nourish your skin after with moisturising cream. On your way out, take along a UV-blocking umbrella or sun hat with a wide brim, as this is your second line of defence against the harsh, unforgiving sun.
The Beatles may sing poetically about the sun, sun, sun, here we come, but take no chances when your skin is at stake.