Photodamage Uncovered

Photodamage Uncovered

My focus this week has been on the sun, we’ve had the most beautiful weather for a few weeks now, which is extremely out of character for the UK, so I thought it’s the perfect time address this subject. My previous post was on sunscreens and how we can protect our skin from the UV rays we get from the sun. This post is going to be all about one of the most common skin conditions that I see in my clinic and is a direct result of sun exposure, Photodamage or Photoageing.

So Photodamaged skin is an example of premature ageing, and premature ageing, you may already understand if you have read my E-Book, is ageing that is caused by external and internal factors that we can usually control.

Overtime UV rays from the sun penetrate our skin, UVB that travels into our epidermis (top layer), and UVA that can travel into the deeper layers of our Dermis. UVA, in particular, weakens our skins supporting collagen and elastin resulting in wrinkles, pigmentation, and a thickened, leathery appearance.

So if we look at UVA rays and how they affect our skin. These damaging rays are out in full force regardless of the weather. Come rain or shine they are there, travelling through the clouds on a cloudy day and through our windows in our homes or cars, we cant escape them! Their wavelength allows them to travel right into the dermal layer of our skin and attack our collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid and also the production of these components as well.

Free Radicals – UV rays cause free radical activity within our skin cells this causes damage to the cells DNA and can render them useless. They cant do the job they are there to do which can have a knock-on effect on other functions within the skin.

Vitamin C– Vitamin C is needed for collagen production, however, UV rays oxidise this vital nutrient so it is no more. Your fibroblast cells will then be missing one of the most important components in its production of collagen. Imagine baking a cake without flour!!!

Vitamin A– UV also inactivates Vitamin A receptors in the skins cells. Vitamin A is required for cellular reproduction and functioning. So if this is not available the chances of poor cellular production or damage are high.

MMP’s– MMP’s or Matrix Metalloproteinases are enzymes that live in our dermis, their job is to breakdown old, damaged collagen to make room for new collagen to be made. When the skin is exposed to excessive sun or exposed every day to the UV rays this can cause the MMP’s to proliferate and start breaking down our healthy collagen.

If we take all these factors above into account, it spells a recipe for poor collagen levels within the skin and therefore poor structural support. If our skin doesn’t have structure, then what does it have? Yes, you guessed it, WRINKLES!!!

The photo here is a powerful image portraying the power of sun damage. Its thought this gentleman was a truck driver in the States. You can clearly see that the side of his face that was exposed to the UV rays through the window in his truck has considerably more photodamage than the other side.

Another characteristic of Photodamage is pigmentation. Our skins main role is protection, and our melanin is part of the skin protective armour. However, it’s not always fully cut out for the role.


Melanocytes are the skin cells that produce our skin’s pigment (melanin), they sit at the base of the epidermis, so both UVA and UVB rays can reach them. They have an octopus-like shape allowing them to feed lots of epidermal skin cells (keratinocytes) at once. The melanocyte produces melanin to protect our skin cells nucleus form the attack of UV rays. However, with long-term exposure or excessive exposure, these melanocytes can go a little crazy. The damage to these cells DNA can cause them to over produce melanin, and deposit it into cells that it shouldn’t, such as the stem cells or neighbouring melanocyte cells. These cells, unlike the keratinocyte cells, are permanent; they don’t desquamate off so that pigment also becomes permanent. This is why we see those freckles or age spots appearing on the surface of our skin.

The thing with photodamage is its not an immediate effect. The symptoms of the condition happen gradually over the years with the accumulation of sun damage. So when the damage is actually being done we can be totally oblivious to it until we look in the mirror one day and realise that damage that has been done. It can then be a task to try and reverse the damage. The old-age saying of prevention is better than the cure is certainly one to follow here. My next blog is going to be all about prevention and how to treat photodamaged skin, so be sure to pop back in a few days.

For help with your skin book your virtual skin consultation here.




The Importance of wearing sunscreen 365 days of the year!

The Importance of wearing sunscreen 365 days of the year!

This is a subject that, when discussed with my clients they always seem surprised and bewildered that I am telling them to wear sunscreen even in the winter months. Sun protection should not be limited to use on our sunshine holidays to solely prevent the short term effects in the form of sunburn. It is the long term exposure that causes gradual damage and accounts for about 90% of the skin’s signs of ageing and leads to a higher risk of skin cancers, including melanoma.

The 2 main categories of UV light that reach the earth’s surface are UVA and UVB.  Most people have already experienced the effects of UVB rays in the form of sunburn, and yes so have I. Being very fair-skinned and lacking in knowledge in my early years I have on too many occasions become a victim to the very aggressive rays and been left with a painful reminder that the suns UV rays, even though invisible to the eye, are a force to be reckoned with!

UVB rays account for 5% of the suns rays and vary throughout the seasons and weather conditions. They penetrate into the superficial epidermal layers of the skin and play a big part in the development of pigmentation irregularities and contribute to photo-ageing.

UVA, on the other hand, accounts for 95% of the UV rays that reach the earth’s surface and can pass through clouds, glass and are present every day of the year at equal intensity during all daylight hours.

They have a longer wavelength and, as you can see from the image, penetrate deeper into the skins dermal tissue, causing the degradation of collagen, elastin and blood vessels. This leads to the appearance of lines, wrinkles and a slackening of the skin.

Alongside the effects of ageing UVA and UVB have on the skin is the more detrimental damage causing the development of skin cancer. This makes it even more important to protect from these harmful rays.

Getting the right kind of protection for your skin type is vital to the long term health of your skin – Click here for a FREE online consultation today!


UVA should be the focus when using a sunscreen considering it comprises 95% of UV and is responsible for the majority of photoaging and skin cancer. However, consumers believe they are being protected from all UV rays when using an SPF. The SPF number shows only the level of protection from UVB rays. Products giving a high SPF that mainly absorb UVB reduce the risk of sunburn so allowing you to stay in the sun longer, you may not burn, however, you will actually increase your risk of UVA damage.

Types of filters

To ensure protection from both UVA and UVB a “broad spectrum” sunscreen is required, the product will clearly state if it has broad-spectrum protection. Along with this type of protection, I also recommend using a sunscreen with physical filters rather than chemical. Chemical filters are made up of particles that are absorbed into the skin and deactivate the rays changing the light energy to heat. There have been many studies that have drawn attention to the potential hazards of chemical filters used in sunscreens, such as suspected hormone disruptors and allergens.

Sunscreens using physical filters like Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are safe, gentle and natural minerals, sit on the skin’s surface and reflect and scatter the light away from the skin. Since these minerals are just sitting on the skin’s surface they are comfortable and non-irritating even for the most sensitive of skins.

So what do I recommend you use?

After extensive research and trialling products myself I came across AlumierMD that, not only provide excellent results through their treatments but the targeted homecare products and focus on sun protection gave me the confidence to not only use on my own skin but to recommend to my clients also.

The problem that sometimes arises with people wearing sunscreens every day is they feel that the texture of the product is not suitable for them. AlumierMD has created a range of cosmetically elegant formulas that allow for a choice in texture and even tint. Therefore these sunscreens can be worn alone or under your makeup and, just like me, you will love using them every day.

Sheer Hydration Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40

Great for dry skin this product with its sheer texture gives a silky and healthy glow. Containing moisturizing Vitamin E and packed with free-radical quenching anti-oxidants, it is offered in either untinted formula or with a versatile tint that blends beautifully on the skin.

Clear Shield Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 42

Great for all skin types but especially good for acne and rosacea skins as it is lightweight, oil-free, and non-comedogenic. It contains Niacinamide to soothe and relieve redness targeting blemishes. Its light texture, gentle and quick-drying formula makes it perfect for the oilier skin types and also the men love this product.

Moisture Matte Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40

My personal favourite, this sunscreen is suitable for normal to oily skin.  The formula lightly moisturizes to smooth and hydrate, while absorbing excess oil creating a matte finish.  Cutting edge colour encapsulated beads blend on the skin to create a sheer healthy glow. It is offered in 3 tints and is great if you don’t wear foundation but would like a little coverage, alternatively, it can be worn under makeup. You can customize the level of tint and coverage with this clever product, a light rub onto the skin will release only a few colour beads resulting in a light tint or by rubbing a little longer you will achieve a deeper tint.

Find out how the sun affects our skin on a daily basis- click here to read more.

If there is one thing you add into your skincare regime, if you haven’t already, make it a sunscreen and if your not sure on what will be the best product for you or would like to discuss any skin concerns, why not book in for a FREE skin consultation with myself and I can customise a regime perfect for you!

During lockdown, my consultations have gone virtual!! So to book your online consultation click here and we can discuss your concerns and create you a regime to help target these.

April is Rosacea Awareness Month

April is Rosacea Awareness Month

What happens in a Rosacea skin?

Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition and is defined as facial erythema. This normally presents on the central face area and can display as diffused redness, telangiectasia (visible capillaries) with a blue undertone, small bumps and pustules and in extreme cases Rhinophyma (bulbous nose).

Our bodies have an innate immune system that kicks in the defence mechanisms when needed. In rosacea skins this immune system can be in a constant state of high alert, so the slightest thing can trigger the inflammatory response. Imagine an overly sensitive car alarm that goes off when someone walks past it.

Rosacea skins also have problems turning off the inflammatory response. The specialised enzyme responsible for turning off this response in normal skins doesn’t always happen in the skin with this condition. Therefore the skin is in a constant state of inflammation. Over time this can affect our barrier function making it compromised and the skin even more reactive and sensitive, so exasperating the condition.


Symptoms of Rosacea:

  • Persistent redness
  • Telangiectasia (visible capillaries)
  • Skin feeling hot to touch * Red, bumpy appearance, sometimes shiny
  • Sore and sensitive skin

Rosacea Triggers

So with Rosacea being an inflammatory skin condition, anything that causes inflammation or vasodilation within the body, or further compromises our barrier function can increase the skin’s reactivity or cause a flare-up of the condition.

Here are a few of the common aggravating factors that can cause the skin to worsen. Note: all skins are different and what aggravates one rosacea skin may not aggravate another so below ore just examples of common factors.

  • Hot foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Exercise
  • Sun exposure
  • Changes in temperature (hot-cold)
  • Saunas
  • Incorrect skincare
  • Stress

A lot of these factors are stimulants that either causes inflammation or vasodilation of the blood vessels. Add a few of these factors into a skin that is already super sensitive can cause it to flare up.

I always recommend keeping a skin diary to record everything you have eaten that day, what environment you have been in, what your mood/stress levels are, and how your skin has been that day. This way we can pinpoint anything that stands out as causing a ‘bad skin day’ and remove from your diet or lifestyle if possible. There’s is no point in trying to treat the skin from the outside if there are still many aggravating factors happening from the inside.

Rosacea Treatments

There is no definite cure for Rosacea but it can be managed. Most of the management of the symptoms will be down to you at home, but of course under my guidance and I am always here for my clients to be able to get in touch if they need me.

The following points will help you manage the condition

  1. Know your triggers- this will usually involve a skin diary to record your eating, lifestyle, mood, and environment, and to make a note of how your skin has behaved the day. This allows us to work out any triggers and aggravating factors.
  2. Skincare – With this, we will work on a seal before we heal principle. The barrier function will be the focus initially and working on restoring this with your home care, this will reduce any unnecessary sensitivity that may be making the condition worse.
  3. Take it slow- this applies to the skincare regime. So I will not be prescribing you a full regime to start with it will just consist of a couple of products that we can then add to as the skin shows us it can tolerate those. This way it makes it easier to identify what active your skin doesn’t like.
  4. Sunscreen???? so in normal cases, sunscreen will be a staple product in your skincare regime. However, I have seen in some Rosacea clients that the sunscreens can sometimes irritate the skin exasperating the condition. I might not always start you on sunscreen until your skin is showing signs of improvement and this might then just be a trial to see if it can tolerate it.
  5. Try to act early- don’t leave the condition to get severe before seeking out help.
  6. Treatments- LED is one of the most effective treatments on the market for this condition. It helps to strengthen, calm, reduce inflammation and increase hydration.
  7. IMPORTANT – Be patient. This is a condition that is constantly unpredictable. It can be a case of trial and error as every skin and every rosacea skin is different. Listen to your skin, treat it with care, be consistent but patient. Results don’t come overnight, and it is more important in rosacea skins than any other that we work progressively to try and make a change.

If you are dealing with any of the symptoms above and would like some help in managing the condition, get in touch. My online consultations will help me understand your skin in order to create you a skin regime to manage your symptoms, Click here to book yours.

And once we can all get back to work it would be lovely to see you in clinic for a full skin analysis.

Rebecca x