We interview Des Fernandes in his home in Cape Town.
Judy: There is such a lot of confusion about skin and therefore there is a huge amount of abuse of skin, and I think that if people understood as much as you do, they might be kinder to their skin or at least wiser. What would you suggest?
Des: All the problems of skin that you see, derive mainly from one problem, that we go out into light. That we spend time in sunlight, that we spend time under cloudy skies, it doesn’t matter, because when you do that, you destroy the vitamin A that lies in your skin, in the very upper layers of your skin, we normally have Vitamin a there, and that Vitamin A gets destroyed by the UV light.
Now that’s a significant problem for us, because, you see, Vitamin A is responsible for almost every function of the cell. It’s responsible for how cells grow and normally do things. When we start off, we start off as a single cell that gets fertilised. That fertilised cell has to grow, and that’s when Vitamin A starts taking its place and playing an important role, and it continues to do that until we die. Then there is no Vitamin A and the cells all die from various other reasons. Thing is this. Until we die, we need Vitamin A in virtually every single cell of our body, but particularly in our skin because the skin is the only area radiated by the sun, and UV light only penetrates a very little bit of tissue. So all the Vitamin A that we really require to keep healthy skin, gets destroyed. People under estimate how badly this gets destroyed because if you just take a walk from your motor car to a shop, you’ll be in the sun for 2 to 5, maybe 10 minutes, and in that time you can destroy anything up to about 80 or even as low as 60% of the Vitamin A that you have in your skin.