A new study of over 1400 women undertaken by Monash University has detailed that Australian skin ages two decades faster than those in Europe.
We love the sun, the beach, the outdoors, sport (reading books by the pool is sport yes?), and we relish in the long languid summer days, or those surprising blue skies that pop up in the middle of winter.
But we're paying the price living close to the equator.
"These high UV levels put Australians at particular risk of photoageing, especially when combined with Australians' traditionally outdoor, sun-seeking lifestyle and a predominantly fair-skinned population," they added.
While the women from each country who were in the study spent a comparable amount of time outdoors each day and were similar in their use of sunscreen and hats- Australian women fared slightly better with their sun protection- Australian women reported "significantly more severe signs of ageing at younger ages and a greater degree of change with age for most features than women from the other countries".
The Caucasian or Asian women, aged 18 - 75, researchers asked women to complete a questionnaire about their facial ageing and to compare their features against numbered rating scales.
The features they compared included their forehead, crow’s feet and glabellar lines (the vertical frown lines between the eyebrows), tear troughs and midface volume loss, naso-labial folds (the lines between the nose and sides of the upper lip).
They were also asked to compare their oral commissures (lines at the corners of the mouth) and perioral lines, also called smoker’s lines.
Australian women reported higher rates of change and 'significantly more severe facial lines' and 'volume-related' features like tear troughs and nasio-labial folds than women from other countries.
Monash Associate Professor Greg Goodman said while researchers have always known Australians do have more lines than those in other countries, this study found their faces 'went south' faster too.
As a result, the women often appear up to 20 years older than women of the same age in other countries and this is due to the sun, not genetics.
'Most Australians live on the coast and fairly temperate climates. There are no blizzards that keep them indoors,' says Professor Goodman
High levels of sun exposure as children seem to be the catalyst for these changes, but as he says '...shade and protection and playing outside of midday and covering up are far more important than we ever thought they were.'
But what about Vitamin D?
Firstly, Vitamin D produced in the skin is converted to a hormone form and activated by the liver and kidney. So if your kidneys and liver aren't functioning properly, then you're not going to be getting the amounts you need.
Most Vitamin D is acquired through fortified foods (especially in older people and in the USA). So the thought that we need to sun bake for a long time to get what need is laughable.
There's a great calculator online that you can type in your details (Latitude + Longitude isn't exact as it was designed for the Northern Hem, but it'll give you aroundabouts) and all I need for example is 24 minutes a day. It's not a lot of exposure, and I'd get more than that walking my dogs on their morning walk alone!
But the rest of the time, especially in the heat of the day, when the sun is at it's highest, I really believe you need to be careful!
And I designed Powder Protection to help make it EASIER.
So, what can we do?
- Prevention is better than cure- so ensuring you're covering up in the heat of the day (and even if it's not the heat of the day!)
- Checking the UV rating each day and educating yourself on how to avoid the worst of it
- Using a sunblock or sunscreen - or even better a natural mineral blocker like Powder Protection (face, neck, ears, arms, chest and hands!) when you're out and about, and reapplying regularly
- Wearing a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, and finding shade when outdoors