Skin Care Advice

The Effects of Sun Damage and How to Prevent Them

Outdoor activities are extremely popular, especially in the summer, and it can feel awesome to get outside and soak in some vitamin D. However, many underestimate the dangers of sun damage to their skin. Sunburn isn’t the first hint that your skin is being damaged; in fact, even tanning is a visible sign of sun damaged skin. Sun damage is one of the leading causes of visible aging on the skin, manifesting in the following ways:

  • Pigmentation issues – Overexposure to the sun can lead to various uneven pigmentation issues, such as sun spots/age spots, freckles, and dark blotches on the skin.
  • Wrinkles – While wrinkles naturally occur through normal aging, sun damage can accelerate the formation of wrinkles, partly because UV rays can cause a loss in collagen and elastin, two of the proteins responsible for maintaining healthy skin. Without these essential structural proteins, the skin can become thinner and more easily wrinkled.
  • Leathery skin – Tough, leathery skin is also caused by excess sun exposure. Just as with wrinkles, this damage is largely due to the loss of collagen and elastin in the skin, causing skin to be less full and supple.
  • Skin cancers – Skin cancer is the most serious threat of sun damage on skin. Excess sun exposure can cause dark spots, which can lead to malignant melanoma, and dry scaly patches known as actinic keratosis, which can also develop into skin cancer.

These visible signs of sun damaged skin are all part of photoaging, a term that’s used to describe changes to the skin caused by sun damage. But you don’t have to get burned; here are some of the best ways to fight and prevent photoaging and maintain healthy skin:

Stay in the shade
Seeking shelter in the shade of a tree can significantly reduce your risk of sun damage. Setting up sun tents and umbrellas is also an excellent way to create a shady sanctuary for yourself when the sun is beating down.

Minimize outdoor activity between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The window of time between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. is when the sun is at its highest point, putting your skin at greater risk of UV damage. Trying to plan around this time frame can help to limit your sun exposure and the risk of damaging your skin.

Apply sunscreen regularly
Sunscreen is essential whenever you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time, even if it isn’t hot out. Applying roughly an ounce of SPF 30 (or higher) sunscreen to your entire body 15–20 minutes before going outside will give you the best protection from UV rays. It’s also best to reapply every couple of hours. Some bare skin sun exposure can be healthy for you, but to get the right levels of vitamin D and the full benefits of the sun on the skin, most people only need two 30-minute sessions of full sun a week.

Wear protective clothing
Protective clothing such as sun hats can offer extra cover for your face and shoulders from sun damage.

Use creams and serums with vitamin C, niacinamide, and retinol
Vitamin C, niacinamide, and retinol can all help protect your skin from the free radicals caused by sun exposure due to their antioxidant qualities. They are also effective at reducing the visible effects of sun damage and fading pigmentation issues. Vitamin C and retinol are especially effective since they also boost collagen production.

Note: When using retinol, it’s best to apply it at night since retinol can break down in the sun.



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