Thinking of going out? Make sure you put on sunscreen first! According to a new study featured on Science Daily, it only takes two days of minimal sun exposure for its UVA 1 rays to affect your skin.

Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School worked with 22 volunteers who allowed a small part of their buttocks to be exposed to low levels of pure UVA1 rays, which is similar to what they’d experience on a sunny day.

In just two days, the research team found that the UVA1 rays caused collagen in the skin to break down due to the production of a molecule called matrix metalloproteinase 1 or MMP1. Collagen is what keeps the skin smooth, supple, and young-looking.

“Premature skin aging from UV exposure has gotten a lot of attention in the last 10 years, but most researchers have focused on UVB rays, which cause sunburn,” explains first author Frank Wang, M.D. “But there is very little UVB in sunlight, and most UVB exposure is at midday. During the rest of the day it’s mostly UVA, with UVA1 being the majority. So, we wanted to look at whether it can predispose skin to premature aging by simulating repetitive daily exposure. And we found that it can.”

The study highlights the importance of packing your sunscreen not just on beach days, but every day. It's best to slather on skin protection every time you head out in order to preserve your youthful glow.

(Photo by gr33n3gg via Flickr Creative Commons)

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