Glowing Good Health
Better Suntanning with Less Skin Damage
Hundreds of years ago Copernicus proclaimed the sun to be the center of our universe. Throughout thousands of orbits, humans have worshiped the sun’s warmth and power.
Primitive societies believed in a sun god that warmed their bodies, souls and brought in the harvest. They praised the sun for its power to heal certain illnesses.
In the early 20’s, tanning became a fashion statement when Coco Chanel obtained a suntan while cruising from Paris to Cannes. The tanning trend continued for several decades.
It wasn’t until 1979 that the FDA concluded that sunscreens could help prevent skin cancer and developed the first rating system for SPFs. Today, the media hypes the dangers of tanning and encourages us to slather on tons of sunscreen even if we are only in the sun for a short period of time. This media frenzy scares us silly.
But is it really healthy to avoid the sun? Consider the following: Humans evolved in the presence of abundant sunlight. Geneticists and archaeologists calculate that our ancestors lost their body hair 1.2 million years ago but only started wearing clothes 72,000 years ago. So for more than 1,128,000 years, our forebearers lived in splendid nudity and flourished.
Additional evidence that human skin thrives when exposed to sunlight (Hobday 2000, Holick 2003).
- In the United States, people in professions with high sunlight exposure (such as farmers and mail carriers live the longest.
- Cancer rates are the highest in northern states with the least sunshine.
- Rates of the major lethal cancers are drastically lower in people who get more sunshine.
- Sunlight-associated cancers increased most in locations where sunscreen was most heavily promoted.
- Sunlight improves the moods of those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
- Psoriatic skin lesions are reduced by sunlight.
- Sunlight raises testosterone levels in males.
- Sunlight exposure may reduce the incidence of schizophrenia.
- Sunlight improves bone health.
- Sunlight decreases auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
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Sunlight and Good Health
A certain amount of sunlight is necessary for good health. Sunshine activates a gene called pom-C, which in turn helps create melanin that determines skin color. This beneficial gene enhances sex drive (the endorphins or “happiness hormones”), as well as leptin, which helps burn fat and keep you thin.
Sun also promotes health and beauty by triggering the skin to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D refers to two very similar molecules: vitamin D3 named cholecalciferol which is created in the outer skin’s keratinocytes (remember GHK-Cu increases keratinocyte proliferation) in response to UVB light and vitamin D2 called ergocalciferol produced in plants. Then, within the body, both of these types are converted into vitamin 1,25D, the active form of vitamin D.
This essential nutrient helps build strong bones and muscles which may contribute to beautiful smiles and sculpted bodies. Furthermore, vitamin D strengthens immunity and reduces breast cancer which can promote longevity. Deficiencies of vitamin D increase bone fractures, susceptibility to infection, and auto-immune diseases.
When a bikini-clad woman with a white complexion basks in the summer sun, her skin generates 10,000 units of vitamin D in as little as 10 to 15 minutes! However, less is more since additional exposure does not increase vitamin D. During winters in Northern Europe, where sunlight is sparse, 92% of adolescent girls and 37% of older women were found to be deficient. Conversely, in climates with long sunny seasons, skin with higher levels of melanin synthesizes much less vitamin D. Caucasian skin absorbs approximately twice as much vitamin D as African skin. Those with darker complexions are at serious risk for vitamin D deficiencies. Topical sunscreens can reduce vitamin D production by more than ninety-eight percent.
Persons who have more sun exposure have much lower rates (reductions of 40 to 80%) of major internal cancers that cause 99% of cancer deaths (breast, colon, prostate, ovarian). This appears to be linked to low vitamin D. A three-year study of 1,179 women in Nebraska found daily supplementation of 1,100 units of vitamin D3 and 1,400 mgs of calcium lowered cancer risk 77%.
While many of the sun’s healing benefits are attributed to an increased production of vitamin D, the sun’s actions are likely to be far more complex. Sunlight generates many other molecules in the skin, perhaps dozens or hundreds more. Some individuals who suffered from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during dark winter months have told me that extra vitamin D (400 to 1,000 units per day) failed to alleviate their depression, whereas a brief sojourn in a UV tanning booth every week did relieve their mid-winter depression.
Your skin maintains UV anti-oxidant protection under full sunlight for approximately 45 minutes, but ultraviolet tanning booths produce 10 times the UV intensity of full sunlight. So the time using tanning booths should be quite brief—2 to 4 minutes.
As for the mixture of vitamin D and sunlight, the best answer may be to use vitamin D supplements (1,000-2,000 units daily, there is no consensus about the optimal dosage) combined with 10 to 15 minutes moderate sunlight several times weekly on areas of your body that rarely are exposed to sunlight.
While sunlight promotes good health, the ultraviolet (UV) rays do cause skin damage. The question is, how can we find methods that will provide adequate sun exposure while reducing sun damage (Drug and Cosmetic Industry 1997, Podda et al 1998, Steenvoorden & Beijersbergen van Henegouwen 1999, Hobday 2000, Lee et al 2000, Granstein et al 2001, Morganti et al 2002, Gonzalez et al 2002, Heinrich et al 2003, Holick 2003).
Many dermatologists advocate the use of chemical sunscreens to prevent skin cancer. Yet epidemiological studies have failed to demonstrate that these sunscreens prevent cancer. In 1998, epidemiologist Marianne Berwick of the Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center analyzed 16 studies with mixed results. She reported that four studies suggested sunscreen protects against skin cancer; five studies found no effect; and seven studies found a higher rate of cancer with sunscreen use. Her conclusion was that “Sunscreen may not protect against skin cancer” and “We don’t really know whether sunscreen prevents skin cancer” (Fackelmann 1998).
In the opinion of ultra-marathoner Dr. Gordon Ainsleigh, sunscreen use might actually increase the number of cancer deaths. After analyzing a 17 percent rise in the breast cancer rate, he stated that the increase could be the result of sunscreen use. Dr. Ainsleigh also concluded that there are 2,200 sunlight-associated cancer deaths annually in the U.S., versus 138,000 for sunlight-inhibited cancers.
Worldwide, the greatest rise in melanoma has occurred in Queensland, Australia, where sunscreen use is heavily promoted. Most Australians grew up hearing the slogan “Slip, Slap, Slop” with regard to sunscreen. They were told the more sunscreen they used, the better (Garland et al 1992, Ainsleigh 1993, Garland et al 1994, Larsen 1994, Farmer & Naylor 1996).
Is ozone depletion, rather than sunscreen, the culprit in rising rates of skin cancer? Not likely. Johan Moan of the Norwegian Cancer Institute found that from 1957 to 1984, the annual incidence of melanoma in Norway had increased by 350 percent and 440 percent respectively, but concluded that “ozone depletion is not the cause of the increase in skin cancer” (Moan & Dahlback 1992).
Does the idea of obtaining a healthy tan sound like an oxymoron? It may if you have spent years avoiding the sun. While too much sun can damage the skin, a low dose of golden rays can enhance your mood and health. Now that’s good news isn’t it? You can obtain the life enhancing effects of sunlight and still keep your skin healthy and attractive. The basic strategy is to increase melanin production. Many of you may not be aware that melanin helps block UV damage by serving as a free radical scavenger. Sensible suntanning is a balancing act since too much sun can damage the skin. Sun-induced skin damage and tanning (melanin production) are two separate biochemical processes and are not linked.
In spite of what you may have heard, a tan does not damage your skin. In human safety studies of SRCPs, the testing lab observed strong melanin production in human skin in the total absence of light when small cups of strong SRCP creams were taped to volunteers’ skin for five days.
So go ahead! Have fun in the sun. Just go slow. Your key for achieving a fabulous tan is to sunbathe sensibly in stages and not overdo it. For most, I recommend suntanning a maximum of 20 to 30 minutes a day to produce the best results. Whole- body suntanning, the most efficient and safest method, permits maximum sunlight exposure in the shortest amount of time since the sun reaches a large area of the body. On the other hand, children generally need less sun than adults; most have thin skin that burns quickly and should not be exposed to sunlight for more than five to 10 minutes at a time. Infants under age 1 should be protected from intense sunlight at all times.
When you tan sensibly, your skin’s natural protective system can defend you for about 45 minuets. This protective system includes defenses against oxygen radicals, such as vitamin E and beta-carotene, as well as copper-zinc superoxide dismutase, which detoxifies oxygen radicals and reduces skin damage.
In addition to monitoring how much time you bask in the sun, you may want to adopt protective measures when you take tropical vacations or spend longer periods enjoying the sunshine. I suggest you take the following steps before sun exposure:
- For each of three days prior to tanning, take a daily supplement of Vitamin C (1 g), Co-Q10 (30 mgs), alpha lipoic acid (100 mgs), Vitamin E (400 units), and tocotrienols (35 mgs). Several skin researchers have recommended beta carotene (30 mg), mixed carotenoids from algae (50 mg), Vitamin E (400 units), and Vitamin C (1 g). Also, consume many antioxidant-loaded whole vegetables.
- Prior to suntanning, apply a thin coat of a copper peptide lotion preferable one that also contains titanium dioxide, which scatters UV, plus a high level of anti-oxidants. A small amount of water may be used to help spread the creams. Published studies suggest that GHK, the human blood copper binding peptide, may directly prevent UV damage. See more of this below.
- If you burn easily or plan to extend your stay in the sun, apply a reflective mineral sunblock over the copper peptide cream. See the paragraph Pure Reflective Sunblockers for more information.
- After suntanning, re-apply a copper peptide lotion. Suntanning produces damage to the skin barrier that must be promptly repaired to reduce peeling. If your skin does not have adequate nutritional copper, it cannot function properly to repair damage.
- Three days prior to tanning, take a daily supplement of Vitamin C (1 g), Co-Q10 (30 mgs), alpha lipoic acid (100 mgs), Vitamin E (400 units), and tocotrienols (35 mgs). Several skin researchers have recommended beta carotene (30 mg), mixed carotenoids from algae (50 mg), Vitamin E (400 units), and Vitamin C (1 g). Also, consume many antioxidant-loaded whole vegetables.
- Wear UV sunglasses that absorb ultraviolet light to protect your eyes. Also wear large hats and protective clothing during times of prolonged sun exposure.
- When you sunbathe in a swimsuit, or better yet in the nude, as did our ancestors for millions of years, you obtain the maximum sunlight benefits with minimum skin damage.
FDA required warning about suntanning:
“These products do not contain a sunscreen and do not protect against sunburn. Repeated exposure of unprotected skin while tanning may increase skin aging, skin cancer, and other harmful effects to the skin even if you do not burn."
But for how long per day should you expose your nude or semi-nude body to sunlight?
The answer may lie in our special tie to the sun which spans thousands of years. Given the life-giving force of the sun, it is not surprising that our ancestors soaked up healing rays to reap its medicinal powers.
Greeks believed in the therapy of sunbathing called “heliotherapy” that could cure certain illnesses. And medical literature dating back to 1500 BC from India mentions treatments of natural sunlight for skin conditions.
During the past century, many European clinics nestled in mountain regions offered whole body sunlight treatments to heal skin wounds and infections.
Physicians prescribed 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight twice daily and were warned not to start sunlight exposure too rapidly.
Additional Suntanning Options
For extended periods of sun exposure we have put together a partial list of sunscreen products currently on the market. Always look for non-micronized titanium dioxide in the ingredients list. This list of products are neither comprehesive nor are the products endorsed by Skin Biology. Be intelligent consumers.
|Product||Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion SPF 30|
|Active Ingredients||Titanium Dioxide 9.1%|
|Inactive Ingredients||Water, C12 15 Alkyl Benzoate, Neopentyl Glycol Dioctanoate, Glycerin, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Isopropyl C12 15 Pareth 9 Carboxylate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Steareth 21, Tocopherol, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Panthenol, BHT, Neopentyl Glycol Diisostearate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Iron Hydroxide, Steareth 2, Stearic Acid, Trimethylolpropane Triethylhexanoate, Acrylates C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Carbomer, Butylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Butylparaben, Methylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben.|
|Online Sellers||Buy this product online|
|Product||Canova Sunscreen SPF 30|
|Active Ingredients||Titanium Dioxide, PCA|
|Inactive Ingredients||Aqua, Ethylhexyl palmitate, Glycerin, Prunus dulcis, Sodium carboxymethyl betaglucan, Synthetic beeswax, Ceteareth-22, Glyceryl stearate, CI 77891, Palmeth-2, Sodium PCA, Bisabolol, Silica, Tocopheryl acetate, Allantoin, Potassium sorbate, Stearyl glycyrrhetinate, Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, Parfum, Hexyl cinnamal, Benzyl salicylate, Linalool, Benzyl benzoate, Butylphenyl methylpropional, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene, Citronellol, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldeyde.|
|Online Sellers||Buy this product online|
|Product||Jan Marini Bioglycolic SPF 15|
|Active Ingredients||Titanium Dioxide|
|Inactive Ingredients||Deionized Water, Glycolic Acid, Glycerine Cetearyl Alcohol And Ceteareth 20, Ammonium Hydroxide, Glyceryl Stearate And PEG 100 Stearate, Cetyl Octanoate, Sodium Hyaluraonate, Moisturizing Phytoamine, Hexyl Laurate, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, PEG 100 Stearate, Steareth 2, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Methylparaben, Diazolidinyl Urea, Xanthum Gum, Propylparaben|
|Product||Clinique's Super City Block Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 25|
|Active Ingredients||Titanium Dioxide|
|Inactive Ingredients||Water (aqua purificata) purified, octyldodecyl neopentanoate, butylene glycol, cyclopentasiloxane, steareth-2, silica, behenoxy dimethicone, tricaprylin, tocopheryl acetate, lecithin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, bisabolol, pantethine, polyglyceryl-6 polyricinoleate, isopropyl titanium triisostearate, trifluoromethyl c1-4 alkyl dimethicone, tricaprylyl citrate, sorbitan tristearate, fish (pisces) collagen, sodium chondroitin sulfate, ubiquinone, silver borosilicate, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) extract, tococysteamide, peg-40 stearate, ceteth-2, peg/ppg-18/18 dimethicone, steareth-20, sodium stearate, aluminum stearate, barium sulfate, magnesium aluminum silicate, carbomer, xanthan gum, citric acid, disodium edta, bht, iron oxides (ci 77491, ci 77492, ci 77499), zinc oxide (ci 77947) <iln26910>
(This sunscreen does contain zinc oxide but may be suitable for use)
|Product||Avalon Organics Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 18|
|Active Ingredients||Titanium dioxide 7.0%|
|Inactive Ingredients||Purified water, octyl palmitate (palm emollient), castor oil phosphate, triethoxycaprylysilane (emulsifer), glyceryl stearate (vegetable emollient), peg-100 stearate (emulsifer), isopropyl palmitate (palm emollient), cetearyl alcohol (coconut emollient), vegetable glycerin, phenoxyethanol (natural preservative), benzyl alcohol and potassium sorbate (natural preservative system), vitamin E, stearic acid (vegetable emollient), organic aloe barbadensis leaf juice, organic sunflower and jojoba seed oils, organic green tea leaf, chamomile flower, calendula flower and ginkgo biloba leaf extracts, vitamin B5, allantoin (comfrey root conditioner), oat kernel flour, organic echinacea leaf and yarrow extracts, polysorbate 60 (emulisfier), potassium cetyl phosphate (vegetable emulsifier), cetyl phosphate (vegetable emulsifer) and xanthan gum.|
|Online Sellers||Buy this product online|
|Product||RESIST Cellular Defense Daily Moisturizer SPF 25|
|Active Ingredients||Titanium Dioxide 9.1%|
|Inactive Ingredients||Water, Tribehenin PEG-20 Esters (skin conditioning agent/thickener), Cyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate (silicone slip agents), Glycerin (skin-repairing ingredient), Caprylyl Methicone (skin conditioning agent), Stearic Acid, Squalane (emollients), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-repairing ingredient), Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E/antioxidants), Ubiquinone, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Oryzanol, Leontopodium Alpinum Flower/Leaf Extract, Buddleja Davidii Extract (antioxidants), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (water-binding agent), Diisopropyl Dimer Dilinoleate (emollient), Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer (silicone film-forming agent), Cetyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (thickeners), Polyacrylamide (film-forming agent), Polyhydroxystearic Acid (thickener), Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate/Triethoxycaprylylsilane Crosspolymer (polymer-based texture enhancer), Triethoxycaprylylsilane Crosspolymer (binding agent), Laureth-7 (emulsifier), Thymus Vulgaris Extract (antioxidant), C13-14 Isoparaffin, Alumina (thickeners), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Xanthan Gum (thickener), Disodium EDTA (chelating agent), Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol (preservatives).|
|Online Sellers||Buy this product online|
|Product||Helioguard 365 Natural Sunscreen|
|Active Ingredients||Titanium Dioxide|
|Online Sellers||Search for products with "Helioguard 365"|
What are Copper Peptides?
Copper peptides are the combination of small amino acid chains with copper 2+ (blue copper). Dr. Pickart's entire career focused on the question of why blood from young persons (20-25) supported cells and tissues better blood from older persons (60-80). During this work, he isolated the copper binding tripeptide GHK (Gly-His-Lys) which appeared to be the major reason for the superiority of young blood.
For skin health, a variety of copper peptides are able to transfer nutritional copper into the skin. GHK-copper works well on skin but Pickart has found other copper peptides that are more effective.
GHK's unique chemistry only becomes important within the human body. There is a fierce competition for copper 2+ and GHK has the exact binding affinity to transfer copper in and our of cells and tissue. Almost, all other peptides cannot compete for copper 2+ in the body.
However, there are very low levels of GHK in the body and the small amount of copper it transfers must trigger a special system that controls or strongly affects about 3,600 human genes or 16% of the human genome.
We are currently analyzing genome and biochemical data to understand the function of GHK in humans. The primary cause of aging and disease is a silencing of active genes as we age but these dormant genes can be turned on under the right stimulus. GHK may act to "set" "or "reset" the youthful gene pattern.
Perhaps like many of us, you relish the sun as it warms your skin and nurtures your senses. Yet you fear that a blazing sun will sizzle your skin, turning you into a wrinkled prune.
So what is the key to wrinkle-free sunshine? Moderation and enjoyment is the key. Reduce exposure to no more than 10 to 15 minutes a day in the morning or afternoon sun when UV rays are less damaging.
However, do enjoy yourself while basking in the beauty of your favorite landscape—perhaps at sea or pruning your rose garden. The secret is to wear minimal clothing so you can expose most of your body to the healing rays. Also you will want to wear a sunblock on more wrinkle-prone areas such as the face, neck, hands, and chest.
After 15 minutes, apply sunblock to the rest of your body—then continue to reflect on nature as reflective sunscreens protect your wrinkle-free skin.
Too Much of a Good Thing
While moderate sun exposure benefits the skin, too much of a good thing can overwhelm the skin’s protective system. Lester Packer (University of California, Berkeley) found that as the dosage of UV radiation increases, the skin’s antioxidant defenses get overwhelmed.
As a result, free radicals form and cause cellular damage, such as lipid peroxidation and oxidative modification of proteins and cellular DNA.
As little as 45 minutes of noon-day exposure can reduce the skin’s protective vitamin C levels by 80 percent and lower other skin antioxidants.
It takes the skin’s melanocytes two to fives days to produce protective melanin. In contrast, a severe burn can occur in just a few hours (Podda et al 1998).
The bottom line is: You can’t rush a sensible suntan. It takes a minimum of one to two weeks to develop a healthy tan. As you expose your body to the sun, the skin thickens and increases your resistance to burning.
Be careful about sun exposure if you take medication such as tetracycline, antihistamines, “sulfa” drugs, diuretics, and some oral contraceptives that can make your skin more sensitive to light.
The High Price of a “Sunburn-Free” Tan
In the early 1970s, there were 6 cases of melanoma for every 10,000 people in the United States. With the advent of sunscreens, scientists predicted a dramatic drop in the melanoma rate in the near future.
Yet by the beginning of 2000s the numbers nearly tripled despite growing sun awareness and increased use of sunscreens among Americans.
To understand why the rate of melanoma in the U.S. climbs despite wide- spread use of sunscreens, let’s take a closer look at UV-radiation and its effects.
The term ultraviolet radiation refers to everything that falls within the category between X-rays and visible light spectrum.
Although it has a shorter wavelength than visible light (our eyes cannot see it), we can feel its effects through a painful sunburn or see its results in a beautiful tan.
UVC-R or germicidal light has a 280-100 nm wavelength. It carries high energy and is very damaging to living tissue; however, it does not penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. This type of UV-radiation can be found in germicidal UV wands and disinfecting blue lamps in hospitals.
UVB-R (315-280 nm wavelength). Its energy is lower than that of UVC, but still is enough to induce a suntan and sunburn as well as stimulate vitamin D production. It can also damage cell DNA; however, its penetrating ability is limited to the upper skin layers, which undergo rapid renewal and can easily get rid of the damage.
UVA-R (410- 315 nm). The most dangerous type of UV-radiation. Although it has low energy and never burns the skin, it can penetrate much deeper than any other UV radiation, and therefore can damage skin collagen and cell DNA, causing premature aging, immunosuppression and in some cases, skin cancer. But it does induce a nice, long lasting tan.
There are three distinct diapasons of UV-radiation: UVC-R, UVB-R, and UVA-R. These differ in energy level and ability to induce a tan or burn the skin. They also produce other biological effects. It is interesting to note that 98.7% of all UV radiation that reaches the Earth is actually UVA radiation. But you could call it “the most aesthetically appealing” type of UV radiation because it can result in beautiful, long lasting tans, while never sunburning.
However, according to researchers this type of tan is different from UVB induced tanning and results from a darkening of existing skin pigment, rather than an increase of melanin production. Therefore, it is less protective than UVB-induced pigmentation. Additionally, recent studies have found that this kind of radiation can penetrate deep into skin and (if given enough time) ravage proteins and DNA, accelerating skin aging.
Next, there’s UVB—the kind of UV that gives you fair skinned beauties your much desired tan, or a sunburn if you are not careful. It can damage the skin, but doesn’t penetrate into the deeper layers. UVB is essential for vitamin D synthesis in the skin.
Finally, UVC is a germicidal, ozone producing radiation. Very little UVC reaches our skin except in high altitudes.
Nobody likes red, swollen, peeling skin and because UVB can cause a sunburn, it has long been considered the most harmful type of radiation. Nevertheless, a sunburn (albeit painful and uncomfortable) does serve important biological functions. In short, it ensures that your skin stays protected from too much UVA as well as helps clear off any damage.
How so? First, a sunburn will naturally limit sun exposure for those with fair skin and insufficient melanin production. No matter how badly a fair skinned lady may want her tan, the red and swollen back and shoulders (not to mention a red and peeling nose!) soon forces her to flee to more shaded areas. After sunburn, damaged skin quickly peels off together with the newly acquired tan.
Today scientists have discovered that not only does the skin peel after the sunburn, it also frantically renovates and remodels itself, pushing out damaged cells or forcing them to commit suicide—thereby entering a state of programmed death. So even when UVB may damage skin, this damage rarely accumulates.
Furthermore, since a UVB-induced sunburn naturally limits the amount of time one can stay out in the sun, there is less time for UVA to do its damaging work. If you do not burn, it just means you have enough melanin in your skin and may not worry about sun damage (unless you’re exposed for a very long period of time). Dark skin is naturally more resilient to UV radiation because it evolved in the abundance of sun. But it still needs plentiful sunlight, since it is more prone to vitamin D deficiency.
Now let us consider what happened when the sunscreen industry shifted this natural balance. Well, it all started in 1960s when a suntan suddenly became fashionable, desirable and an indication of higher social status.
The first sunscreens (which contained a very harmful estrogenic chemical PABA—para-aminobenzoic acid) were designed not for skin protection, but merely to stop the sunburn reaction allowing tan-seekers to spend more time under the sun in order to achieve the much desired tan faster.
As you probably have guessed already, this came with a price! As happy, grateful beachgoers basked under the sun for hours without feeling the sting of a sunburn, their skin received a huge amount of UVA radiation.
Moreover, the cells damaged by UVB (which also wasn’t completely blocked by sunscreen) would not peel off—so the tan stayed, but so did the damage. Decades of such tanning practices led to the emergence of sun damaged baby boomers—men and women with deep wrinkles, and dimpled, uneven skin with broken skin capillaries.
So in the 1990s, scientists and doctors began to warn us about the danger of excessive sun exposure. However, the flourishing sunscreen industry quickly adapted to the changed rules of the game.
Instead of promoting painless suntanning, sunscreen gurus started advocating sun protection, using wrinkles and skin cancer as means to justify even more sunscreen usage. Soon the sunscreen industry began to urge everyone to use sunscreens all year round, and regardless of skin color.
In addition to old-fashioned UVB sunscreens, there is now an array of UVA/ UVB options that claim broad-spectrum protection. However, not every consumer knows that SPF (sun protection factor), a familiar indicator of the product’s efficiency, really only refers to protection from UVB rays and tells us nothing about the level of UVA protection.
SPF is measured by evaluating skin redness after UV-radiation with and without a sunscreen. But UVA rays do not cause skin reddening and sunburn, and therefore UVA protection cannot be measured this way.
Even though there is a special test that can be used to measure UVA protection (a pigment darkening test or PDT), sunscreen manufacturers were not required to perform this testing until recently.
Are Copper Peptides The Answer?
GHK can provide a way to protect our skin from UV free radicals. It may provide the answer to a nagging question; how can we protect our skin without applying harmful chemicals?
UV damage is mediated through molecules called Reactive Carbon Species (RCS)—a carbon equivalent of oxygen free radicals. When the UV energy transfers to the RCS molecules, they damage the components and cells of the skin.
Studies from Lipotec, the Barcelona Bioinorganic Chemistry Department and the University of Milan, found that GHK would protect skin keratinocytes (the outer skin cells) from lethal doses of UV light. See photographs below. The GHK binds to the RCS molecules and inactivates them.
They also found that GHK reduces the damaging glycation of proteins such as superoxide dismutase. The authors write: “Gly- His-Lys is able to help the natural protection of cells (Glutathione) to prevent the damage of RCS and UVB radiation and acts as a scavenger of specific RCS (HNE, acrolein) and prevents glycation of protein.”
J. Cebrian, A. Messeguer, R.M. Facino and J.M. Garcia-Anton, Inter. J. Cosm. Sci. 27, 271-278 (2005)
Lipotec (www.lipotec.com) sells products for cosmetic use that use this technology.
It must be emphasized that these results do not directly prove that GHK protects skin from UV damage. A few uncontrolled studies have been performed on individuals with very fair complexions and sun-sensitive skin.
Most reported that the SRCP creams made it easier for them to suntan and to tolerate sunlight when at the beach or skiing.
The methods that we used are detailed in the US Patent 5,698,184 by Pickart. However, given the current negative Zeitgeist concerning sunlight and skin protection, it has proven impossible to secure support to develop these observations into protective products.
UVB radiation + HNE
GHK + UVB + HNE