Photoageing refers to the premature ageing of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, primarily from the sun. Before I say anything more, I want to make it abundantly clear that spending time in the sun is wonderful for you. I would go so far as to say critical for you. Do not allow this article dissuade you otherwise.
Yet, overexposure to sunlight can also cause ageing of the skin. This phenomenon is distinct from intrinsic ageing, which is the natural ageing process that occurs over time.
Photoaging is a result of chronic sun exposure. Studying photoaging in humans directly can be impractical due to the extended time it takes for signs to manifest. If you want to find out if you are ageing, advanced techniques like polarised light photography can enhance the visualisation of surface or subsurface features of the skin, providing an accurate record for evaluating photodamaged skin2.
Noninvasive methods have also been developed, allowing for in vivo skin visualisation and repeated assessments of the same site, which prove beneficial for quantifying photoaging.
Photoaging can lead to various skin changes, including wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, and pigmentation changes. Recent experimental data suggest that smoking can also accelerate the photoaging process. So what can you do?
First, obviously, expose yourself to sunlight to the extent required. Personally, I go for a 60-90 minute walk every morning. While the sun is yet to rise when I do, UV rays are present. For me, the trade-off between the walk, the need for exposure to the sun, and the time spent in the UV rays is a worthwhile trade-off.
Second, you can wear sunscreen. Dr. Jaishree Sharad, a famed dermatologist from Mumbai, was recently in Kolkata for my show, TheRiteshBawriShow. The episode will be released in some time, but one of the key things she said was to use sunscreen with at least SPF 50. SPF is the sun protection factor. In fact, I was surprised that she said to use it all the time, even if you are at home.
So make a balanced choice. Expose yourself to the sun, but take protection while doing so.