Article written in the Mirror
Dawn Jafkins and her doctor were baffled when they saw the difference between the skin on each side of her face
An office manager wants to raise awareness of the dangers of suffering sun damage through closed windows after ten years of sitting at a desk by the window left her with bizarre skin ageing on just one side of her face.
Grandmother Dawn Jafkins, 49, worked at a doctor’s surgery for twenty years, ten of which she had spent sitting at a desk a metre away from the window.
As the years passed, Dawn, who has two children, aged 29 and 31, and two grandchildren, started to become more self-conscious about the wrinkles around the tops of her cheeks, particularly on the left-hand side of her face.
She believed one side of her face seemed older than her years.
So in October 2016, she decided to do something about it and tried to get Botox to improve the wrinkles.
But after seeing a specialist at Reverse Time Clinic in Winchester, she was told it wasn’t that simple.
Dr Aarti Narayan-Denning realised the wrinkles were actually a result of sun damage, but after a full medical history check it was clear Dawn had always looked after her skin.
Dr Narayan-Denning said: “She took care not to expose her skin to the sun, wore SPF of at least 30 whenever she was outside, and never used sunbeds.
“She had tried several popular anti-wrinkle creams, but apart from feeling a bit smoother, her skin was no better for it.”
Dr Narayan-Denning recommended a peel preparation with SPF50 for two weeks and then two Skintech TCA peels costing £350 each, applied 2-4 weeks apart.
This medical grade peel is a type of skin resurfacing, using a controlled strength acid. It triggers the production of collagen, speeds up the shedding of the damaged surface layers of skin, revealing brighter and tighter skin which looks and acts younger.
When the peel was first applied, Dr Narayan-Denning explained it would turn darker in the areas that had the most sun damage.
Back at home Dawn was horrified when one side of her face went a dark colour and the other didn’t.
Worried that too much of the peel had been put on one side, Dawn contacted Dr Narayan-Denning who explained it meant that one side had a lot more sun damage than the other.
Dawn, and Dr Narayan-Denning, were initially baffled by the huge difference.
“I’ve seen that sort of asymmetrical half-of-the-face sun damage on taxi drivers before,” explains Dr Narayan-Denning. “But Dawn wasn’t a taxi driver, she’d always been sensible when out in the sun, and went on holiday once a year. What’s more, she had worked indoors for over twenty years.”
However, further discussion soon led the pair of them to realise what had caused it – the fact that Dawn had been sitting at a desk by the window for the last 10 years.
“Her position there meant the left side of her face was always exposed to the sun through the glass. The pattern of the damage was from the beam of light that came through between the vertical blinds.
Dawn said: “I was shocked because I didn’t think you could get sun damage through glass.
Shockingly, all those years of sitting by the closed window with no SPF on Dawn’s face had caused skin damage and subsequent wrinkles and ageing.
Dr Narayan-Denning explains: “Most patients believe that it is not possible to damage your skin through glass but it’s important to remember that the sun’s rays have two components; UVA and UVB.
“UVB causes burning of the skin – the feeling that we get from lying on a beach for too long. This can be blocked by glass and therefore means that we are less likely to burn when inside.
“UVA however causes ageing of the skin and is not blocked by glass.”
Thankfully for Dawn, once the skin peels had fully taken effect and all of the dark patches had peeled off (about 10 days after the treatment session), Dawn was left with a healthy-looking rejuvenated face and less prominent lines.
Friends and family have noted how well she looks, and how her skin is more radiant now. She says it feels smoother, stronger and springy, but the greatest difference is Dawn’s confidence.
Now, although she’s moved to a new office, Dawn still sits by the window but makes sure she applies SPF every day.
She said: “I still can’t believe that half of my face was damaged by the sun like that.
“Thankfully it’s all cleared now, and both sides of my face look young and healthy.
“I’m telling my story to raise awareness of the dangers of sun damage – even if you’re indoors.
“I’m also incredibly grateful to Dr Narayan-Denning for not just giving me Botox like I first requested asked, but for actually taking time to explore the reason behind the problem and finding a more appropriate solution.”
Dr Narayan-Denning advice to prevent wrinkles and aging from sun damage:
Skin aging from sun exposure occurs irrespective of whether we deliberately expose our skin to the sun or not
It occurs when we are at home or at work, not just when we are lounging by the pool/ beach on holiday
We can minimise skin aging by using an antioxidant (Professional C serum) and diligent sun protection with SPF 50 (such Heliocare or Obagi)
Planned resurfacing of the skin, either with medical grade peels or energy based, will help to repair the damage the summer has done
Resurfacing is best done when there is low risk of sun damage (such as in autumn or winter)
Aftercare such as SPF 50 and lifestyle management are key to getting the best results from skin resurfacing