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Blame the sun for your visible wrinkles: UV rays account for 80 per cent of skin aging

Blame the sun for your visible wrinkles: UV rays account for 80 per cent of skin aging

Exposure to sunlight is to blame for a majority of skin aging. Research show that the effect of UV rays on skin increases with age.
The sun is responsible for the vast majority of visible ageing, according to new research – another reason to slather on the sun screen all year round.

UV rays accounted for 80 per cent of skin ageing, including wrinkles, in a study of almost 300 women – half sun-worshippers and half shy of the sun. The study also found that a two per cent increase in skin damage ages a face by three years.

Long-term UV exposure can also lead to pigmentation, reduced skin elasticity and a degradation of skin texture, including yellowing.

Various other factors can also change the skin’s appearance and structure, including gravity, the natural ageing process, pollution, diet, tobacco, illness and stress.

But in the study, reported in the medical journal Clinical, Cosmetic And Investigational Dermatology, researchers wanted to calculate for the first time the effect of sunlight alone.

Dermatologists examined the faces of 298 women, aged 30 to 78, with 12 experts studying photographs of individual faces on a screen.
Cover up: The sun's damage on the skin increases with age

Cover up: The sun's damage on the skin increases with age

Another panel of volunteers also viewed the women’s faces and estimated their age.

The results show that the effect of UV exposure increases with age. Significant differences were seen in wrinkles and skin-texture quality after the age of 50, with the sun-seekers looking older than their real age.

The researchers worked out what they call a ‘sun damage percentage’ and calculated that the sun is responsible for 80.3 per cent of skin ageing.

They also found that women with 80 per cent damage look their age, while those who have 82 per cent damage look about three years older, and those with 78 per cent damage appear three years younger.

The researchers, from L’Oreal Research and Innovation Center, Paris, said: ‘Our study confirms the accountability of sun exposure in premature ageing of the face.

‘Our comparison between two groups of women, whose sun behaviour was different, has allowed us to clearly demonstrate the effect of UV exposure.’

However, the researchers added that sagging in older faces is likely to be linked to the long-term effects of gravity.

Dr Richard Warren, senior clinical lecturer and consultant dermatologist at the University of Manchester and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘It is very hard to distinguish accurately between intrinsic [natural] ageing and extrinsic [environmental] ageing, and this study goes some way to addressing the specific impact of the sun on skin.

‘Effective use of sunscreens will not only limit extrinsic skin ageing but will also reduce skin cancer risk.

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