Some combinations work magic - Ginger and Fred… Thelma and Louise, retinoids and niacinamide. And I feel that way about vitamin C and sunscreen.
So we know how powerful SPF is as a tool for premature ageing prevention - the big Queensland study from 2013 demonstrated its value - 903 participants were recruited.
They were randomised into 2 groups, to either use SPF explicitly - dose and reapplication was defined - or to be used discretionarily.
After 4.5 years (which is a hugely long time, in trial land) they were assessed.
Those that followed explicit guidance experienced 24% less skin ageing. This shows us that how we use sunscreen is vitally important when it comes to accessing the benefits.
How does vitamin C help sunscreen?
Going further, we think that combining daily SPF with regular antioxidant use is the best way to take your photo-aging defense game to the next level. Vitamin C can mop up any UV that happens to get past your SPF - remember no sunscreen is perfect because our application technique tends to be imperfect. And it’s the daily insidious creep of UVA, especially long wave UVA1 that penetrates deeply into our skin that drives collagen loss, loss of elastin and hyperpigmentation that we really need to be aware of when we’re talking about premature ageing.
UVA1 is a big part of what drives hyperpigmentation. The higher the UVA PF the better it is at protecting against hyperpigmentation. It's why it's so important to seek out sunscreens with that all-important UVA in a circle symbol meaning the UVA PF is at least ⅓ of the UVB PF (SPF). That's why you need to seek out a well-balanced sunscreen - and it’s why your make-up or moisturiser is unlikely to cut it when it comes to preventing the damage from that daily dose of ageing rays.
But… even that’s not the whole story. Visible light is also part of the puzzle because we now know that it also generates pesky free radical damage. And it has the power to trigger production of MMPs 1 and 9 and to reduce collagen 1 production.
The net effect - less collagen and more fine lines.
So there’s a big incentive to use vitamin C for prevention of photo-ageing, especially in the context of pigmentation-prone skin. Additionally, the use of iron oxide as a VL blocker is also worth considering, especially in darker skin types when high energy blue light has a role to play in PIH, actinic lentigines and melasma.
So I think it’s very exciting to feel that with so much greater awareness around the multiple causes of photo-ageing, that we can now better understand the tools at hand for prevention. An antioxidant serum combined with a well-balanced potentially tinted SPF used on a daily basis, whatever the weather, is a charismatic duo for shielding your skin from environmental aggressors.
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