Bill McElligott drove a milk delivery truck in the Chicago area for almost thirty years. The left side of his face, the side that absorbed the sun’s rays through his window on those countless delivery runs, has aged almost twenty years beyond the right side. From one side, he’s 66. From the other he’s 86.
This phenomenon is called photoaging. Your skin’s outer layer, the epidermis, is where pigment producing cells reside. UVB rays stimulate these cells to darken, causing freckles and tanning. Too much UVB exposure is the primary cause of sunburn.
The next layer of the skin, called the dermis, contains “structural support” for the outer layers. Fibrous molecular webs like collagen and elastin allow the outer layers to lay smooth and stretch evenly. In response to being showered with UVA rays (which can penetrate deeper than UVB) like Bill was for so many years, cells in the lower dermal layer respond by making proteins that eat up the collagen and other elastic molecules.
The result is the appearance of bumps, wrinkles and stiffened skin … and a stark reminder of what years of even “normal” sun exposure can do to your skin (not to mention that whole cancer thing).
So wear some sunscreen. Maybe stay out of the tanning bed. You only get one set of skin, and you’ll be far more attractive with less of a tan than you will be after photoaging grabs hold.