Common Skincare Concern Series: Sun Damage
Your skin needs sunlight to produce vitamin D, important for bone formation. However, getting too much sun is harmful to your skin and your health. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight is the No. 1 reason the skin ages, accounting for about 90 percent of the symptoms of premature skin aging. Furthermore, sun exposure causes more than 90 percent of skin cancers.
Sun exposure and repeated sunburns cause premature aging (photoaging), making you look older than you are. UV rays damage collagen and elastin, reducing the skin’s strength and elasticity. UV rays also decrease antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, impairing the skin’s ability to protect against free radicals. The signs of photoaging include:
- Deep wrinkles
- Dry, rough skin
- Fine red veins on your cheeks, nose and ears
- Freckles, mostly on your face and shoulders
- Dark or discolored spots known as macules (aka age spots) on your face, back of hands, arms, chest and upper back
The more sunburns you experience during your life, the greater your risk of skin damage and skin cancer. People with these physical characteristics are more likely to get sunburns, skin damage and skin cancer:
- Fair skin
- Blonde or red hair
- Blue or green eyes
How to Prevent and Treat Sun Damage
- Limit sun exposure. Stay in the shade when you’re outside, especially between 10AM and 4PM. Wear bright or dark-colored clothing to reflect UV radiation. Tightly woven, loose-fitting clothes are best for sun protection. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes, head and neck—areas that are vulnerable to sun damage.
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Both UVA and UVB rays contribute to photoaging and the development of skin cancer. Apply sunscreen to your face, neck and body every day, even cloudy days and when you’re inside. UVA rays can penetrate car windows and glass. If you wear foundation makeup, apply sunscreen first and then apply your foundation.
- The SkinPen micro-needling procedure can help to improve the appearance of aging skin by assisting in your skin’s natural ability to remodel existing collagen and elastin. SkinPen’s procedure can be tailored to your skin’s needs and has minimal side effects, so it’s appropriate for most skin types.
- Antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E) to help repair and prevent further skin damage; topical vitamin C softens fine lines (Surge 1 Collagen Boost, Rescue Calming Complex, Fortify Vita C Serum)
- Copper peptide-amino acid complex to improve fine lines, wrinkles and skin discoloration (Fortify Vita C Serum)
- Zinc oxide for UVA/UVB protection (Shield Zinc Oxide 21%)