We all love to have fun in the sun, but it’s important to protect your skin from the damage caused by sunlight.
Sun damage can make your skin appear older than it is, and may make for unwanted changes to your complexion. Fortunately, you can treat and prevent sun damage with the right remedies.
Is Your Skin Sun-Damaged?
Your skin can become sun-damaged after spending a lot of time outside without proper sun protection. Over time, continued exposure to sunlight (or UV rays) can cause changes to your skin and may make you appear older than you actually are.
These changes commonly include:
- Age spots
- Loose skin
- Spider veins
- Blotchy complexion
- “Pregnancy mask”
The medical term for these changes is photoaging.
With repeated exposure to UV rays, damage in the skin can build in the form of deeper lines or scaly patches, also called actinic keratoses (AKs). AKs can lead to skin cancer without proper treatment.
What Is Ultraviolet Light?
UV light (or “rays”) is a form of electromagnetic radiation produced naturally by the sun. You can also be exposed to UV rays from other sources, like tanning beds, welding torches, or black lights.
Radiation is the emission of energy from a certain source. UV rays emit more energy than visible light, but less than an X-ray. So, while UV rays can damage the skin, the energy is not strong enough to have an effect on the body beyond the surface (aka your skin).
There are 3 types of UV radiation:
- UVA: these rays have the least amount of energy, can cause some indirect damage to your cells, & are mainly linked to long-term skin damage (like wrinkles)
- UVB: these rays have slightly more energy than UVA, can damage DNA in skin cells, & are the main cause of sunburns & skin cancers
- UVC: these rays have the most energy & react with the ozone layer before reaching the ground (but can be found in certain man-made sources, like mercury lamps)
Treatments for Sun-Damaged Skin
Sun damage can be permanent, but there are many treatments you can use to help reduce the appearance of photoaging.
Moisturizers & Prescription Retinoids
Using a moisturizer is a simple, easy start to caring for your skin. You should use a moisturizer every day and SPF protection to keep your skin healthy, smooth, and glowing.
For a more intensive option, you can discuss a prescription retinoid with your doctor or dermatologist. A prescription retinoid you can get through a physician which is then dispensed through a pharmacy, or your local medical spa. Retinoids help stimulate collagen production and cell turnover, which can help the skin look and feel younger and healthier.
Treats: Wrinkles, age spots, loose skin, blotchy complexion
Fillers & Botox
Dermal fillers are injected under the skin to restore and enhance natural facial features. Fillers are gel-like substances that can plump and hydrate your skin.
Botox is another form of injectable that can help your skin look and feel younger. Botox works by stopping nerve signals that cause muscle contractions. By stopping these contractions, Botox can smooth lines and prevent signs of aging.
Treats: Wrinkles, fine lines and texture.
Chemical peels are applied to the skin to remove the top layer and encourage new skin cell growth. These peels can be made of different chemical solutions based on your needs and skin goals.
During your treatment, a specific combination of natural acids is used to remove any damaged skin cells from your face, making way for new and healthier skin.
Treats: Wrinkles, age spots
Hydroquinone depigments skin by acting on melanocyte metabolism which is the cell responsible for skin darkening. It is the gold standard for tyrosinase inhibitors. Hydroquinone can be found in serum or cream form and It is only available through a medical professional and is not found over the counter.
Treats: Age and sun spots, hyperpigmentation and melasma
Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C calms, brightens and retains moisture in the skin. It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and even helps prevent radiation injury from UV exposure. It should be used in the morning with SPF.
Treats: Fine lines, dull and lackluster skin
HydraFacial essentially combines a microdermabrasion-like treatment with an infusion of serums. This non-invasive skin treatment combines cleansing, exfoliation, extraction, hydration, and antioxidants to remove dead skin cells while moisturizing the skin at the same time.
Treats: Wrinkles, sun spots, and acne
There are a number of treatments designed to enhance your natural beauty. Some of these include:
- Laser resurfacing for wrinkles, age spots, spider veins, loose skin, & blotchy complexion
- Intense pulsed light therapy for age spots, spider veins, & blotchy complexion
- Cryosurgery for age spots
- Radiofrequency for loose skin
Prevent Sun Damage with Healthy Habits
You can prevent sun damage with the right habits.
Perhaps the most important thing you should do is apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher every day. Even if it’s an overcast day, UV rays can still reach you through the clouds. Wearing sunscreen every day helps protect your skin from photoaging and damage.
When you’re outside on hot days, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. You should also wear UV protective sunglasses and clothing items to protect your skin when outside for long periods. Try to stay indoors or in the shade during peak times (10 AM-2PM).
If you use tanning beds, it’s best to stop altogether. Tanning beds can speed up the process of photoaging significantly. Try switching to a self-tanning option, instead.