The lockdown has forced us to make major changes to our lifestyles. From adapting to a work-from-home schedule to updating our diet to enhance immunity, we are doing all we can to get through quarantine well. Our skincare has also taken a hit thanks to staying indoors all day. The reason why you are noticing an increase in stress breakouts and dull complexion only now is because they take time to show up. That’s why after spending over a month in lockdown, we are finally waking up to the not-so-obvious causes of skin damage. Case in point: UV exposure even when you are indoors.
Here’s everything you need to know about how UV rays can damage your skin while you’re sitting at home.
- Can our skin suffer UV damage during the lockdown?
- How does UV exposure affect our skin?
- How to stay safe from UV exposure during the lockdown?
- Dr Parul’s 4 Ss to avoid UV exposure damage during the lockdown!
Can our skin suffer UV damage during the lockdown?
Dr Parul Khot, practising senior Dermatologist and Cosmetologist, elaborated that the sun is the source of a full spectrum of UV light. This UV light is subdivided into UVA and UVB rays mainly.
While UVB rays damage our skin while we are outdoors causing suntan and sunburn, UVA rays can pass through glass window panes and penetrate deeper into the layers of your skin, causing damage even while you’re indoors.”
The lockdown has confined us to our homes for most of the day. But it is a myth that sun damage doesn’t happen when we are indoors. The UVA rays can still penetrate about 75% through our ordinary or tinted window panes, into the deeper layers of our skin and alter the skin structure.
How does UV exposure affect our skin?
The reason why UV exposure while indoors isn't talked about enough is because, by the time you see the effects, it is already too late. Dr Parul cautions, “Remember here, we do not TAN or BURN from indoor UV rays, so effects are slow (unlike UVB damage that has visible tanning). You might notice dull skin, fine lines, melasma pigmentation and new brown spots arising, indicating that you shouldn't overlook this.”
Some of the effects of indoor UV exposure include:
- UVA rays can reach deep into the skin causing biological changes in cells, leading to premature sagging and ageing.
- UV damage leads to dullness and visible crinkling.
- Pigmentary conditions like melasma, age spots, dark spots especially in Asian skin, redness and swelling and cancers can be long term effects of cumulative exposure to UVA rays.
- UV exposure can cause the production of free radicals in the skin and results in oxidative stress causing increased pigmentation, redness and premature ageing due to the breakdown of collagen and elastin.
- It also delays skin recovery.
How to stay safe from UV exposure during the lockdown?
Dr Parul has simple solutions to reduce UV exposure damage during the lockdown. “Sunscreen remains your best defence against photo ageing outdoors and indoors. But now that we are talking about UVA hazards while we are indoors, we need to add antioxidants that control the damage at cellular levels too,” she says.
Sunscreens are filters and not complete protection, hence have to be reapplied. Apply even before cooking. Sunscreens are available in the form of lotions, creams, ointments, sprays, lip balms etc.
BB Picks: Lakme Sun Expert Spf 50 Pa+++ Ultra Matte Gel Sunscreen Antioxidants are extremely crucial to boost immunity and reduce free radicals caused by blue light and UVA. Topical Vitamin C, Vitamin E, glutathione are most effective. Oral Vit C, glutathione, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, astaxanthin and biotin are a must nowadays to counter stress-induced damage to your skin.
BB Picks: Lakme Absolute Perfect Radiance Skin Lightening Night Creme Anti-ageing products like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide also have to be added to counter early signs. You can use a moisturiser and night cream that contain these ingredients.
BB Picks: Pond’s Light Moisturiser
Dr Parul’s 4 Ss to avoid UV exposure damage during the lockdown!
- Slip… on a long shirt (Clothing adequately covering)
- Slather… on a broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapply every few hours. Choose SPF 15-30 for Indian skin.
- Slap… on a hat, if you’re going out for groceries.
- Shift… your seating away from the window!
Dr Parul also emphasises the fact that lack of sun exposure also contributes to dullness in skin. “Unfortunately we are deprived of a whole lot of skin and body-boosting mechanisms in this lockdown. Absence of natural light may fuel anxiety, obesity, diabetes, insomnia, depression and much more. Sunlight is also essential for Vitamin D synthesis in the body. A Vitamin D deficiency could lead to poor bone strength and the risk of fractures. So make sure to add calcium and Vitamin D3 supplements to your antioxidants.”
Remember to stay cautious and get some early morning sun once in a while!