Have you ever wondered what you'll look like when you're older? We're all born with healthy, undamaged skin. It's fresh, it's filled with collagen and it's youthful looking. Of course it is--as newborns, we're just emerging into a world filled with toxins and sun damage.
Different Types of Aging
Everyone's skin ages at a different rate, and eventually, we'll all have some wrinkles, age spots and sagging skin. It's natural to experience thinner, drier skin as you get older. This type of genetically driven aging is referred to as intrinsic aging. There's not much you can do to prevent it.
Extrinsic aging is caused by environmental and lifestyle factors. One of the main causes of extrinsic aging is sun damage.
Viral Video Shows Sun Damage
Most people can't tell how damaged their skin is from sun exposure just by looking in a mirror. In a viral video called "How the Sun Sees You," videographer and artist Thomas Levitt uses a UV camera to reveal the extent of sun damage on what appears to be healthy, radiant skin.
The Aging You Cannot See
Viewing your skin under UV light doesn't only highlight the age spots that you already know about. It reveals age spots that lie below the surface of your skin. The UV camera captures hidden freckles and shows age spots that can't be detected with the naked eye. One of the scariest things about this below-the-surface skin damage is that it is largely irreversable. Even the best laser resurfacing treatment may not touch the aging that's already happened deep below the skin's surface.
How a UV Camera Shows Sun Damage
How does the UV camera work? It essentially uses a filter that blocks visible light, showing only UV light. Because melanin in the skin absorbs UV rays, those spots appear darker with a UV camera. Melanin is the skin's response to UV damage. As your skin becomes damaged by the sun, it releases more melanin. The melanin's purpose is to absorb UV light to prevent further damage, but it's a never-ending (and possibly deadly) cycle. Although melanin helps protect you, it is also a sign that your DNA has been permanently damaged.
What's really surprising about this video is what shows up when you apply sunscreen. A healthy layer of sunscreen looks completely black in the UV camera. That's because the sunscreen is absorbing most of the UV rays.
The Wake-Up Call
This Thomas Leveritt sun damage video is a wake-up call. Even if you haven't undergone this type of skin imaging yourself, you'd probably be shocked at the extent of damage you'd see if you did look at yourself with a UV camera.
Although you can't do much to reverse the damage, you can prevent further damage from happening. How? By using sunscreen and sun protective clothing that absorb UV rays before they have a chance to damage your skin. Apply sunscreen correctly to minimize UV damage.