Series: How to prevent sun damage: Focus on photoaging

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 for skin aging, accounting for about 90 percent of the symptoms of premature skin aging.


Furthermore, sun exposure causes about 90 percent of skin cancers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization classify UV radiation from the sun and from tanning beds as a human carcinogen.


Sun exposure and repeated sunburns cause premature aging (photoaging), making you look older than you are. When the sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit your skin, dermal cells produce melanin (the pigment that gives skin its color) to protect the epidermis. This increased melanin production gives you a tan — the result of your skin trying to block the UV radiation from penetrating and damaging your skin.

While UVB rays are mostly responsible for sunburn, the UVA rays cause most of the photoaging damage. UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, damaging the collagen fibers. This damage leads to increased production of abnormal elastin and enzymes called metalloproteinases that rebuild damaged collagen. These enzymes often malfunction and break down the collagen, leading to incorrectly built skin. Over time, with repeated UVA exposure, the incorrectly built skin forms wrinkles, and the depleted collagen causes leathery skin.

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
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Dark or discolored spots known as macules (aka age spots) on your face, back of hands, arms, chest and upper back. An age spot is a small bit of pigmentation caused by sun exposure.

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
  • Freckles
  • Moles

How to Prevent and Treat Photo-damage

The best way to prevent photoaging is to limit your exposure to UV radiation by staying out of the sun, particularly between 10AM and 2PM, when the sun’s rays are the strongest. When you are outside, cover up. Wear a hat, UV-blocking sunglasses and bright or dark-colored clothing to reflect UV radiation. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, such as Skinfuse Shield Zinc Oxide 21%, to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays, which 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. The SkinPen micro-needling device causes controlled micro-injuries that stimulate your body’s natural wound healing process. The micro-injuries trigger the release of cytokines and growth factors that lead to remodeling of 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, including darker skin.

Contact your SkinPen provider to learn more about how SkinPen can improve the appearance of aging skin.