You may be vigilant with sunscreen now, but nobody’s perfect. The days in the sun without protection during your youth as well as the odd day without sunscreen here and there will soon add up and can cause long lasting sun-induced damage. The harmful rays of the sun can not only affect the skin in terms of discolouration and premature wrinkles but it can also alter the DNA of your skin cells leading to cancer-causing mutations. It’s therefore vital to know what steps are necessary to provide the right coverage and protection from the sun. This will include protection from both UVA rays, which can cause premature ageing and UVB rays, which is one of the main causes of skin cancer. Fortunately, with all the treatments and creams available now, it’s easy to not only protect yourself from future sun exposure, but you can also start to reverse any damage left over from your youth and beyond.
It’s thought that humans shed around 8 pounds (3.6 kilos) of dead skin cells a year (eurgh!). Dead skins cells accumulate on the surface causing the skin to appear blotchy and uneven. Exfoliation is key in enhancing protection of the skin as it promotes cell turnover and renewal of healthy skin cells at the surface. Chemical exfoliations offer much better removal of dead skins cells that just scrubbing alone as they actually dissolve the cells. Good chemical exfoliations, like BeautyRX Daily Exfoliating Serum, should contain a 5-8% concentration of the active ingredient, glycolic acid.
Skin rejuvenating laser treatments are also a good way to remove built-up layers of dead and damaged skin. The at home Skin Rejuvenating Laser from Tria Beauty is a simple and easy to use device with results worthy of professional treatment, just without the added costs of a salon visit. It creates an even skin tone and texture using non-ablative laser technology as well as working against the signs of ageing by reducing fine lines and wrinkles and promoting collagen production.
Skin bleaching may sound like a scary option but it’s not as bad as it sounds and not a single ounce of bleach is actually involved. It gets its name because it lightens the darker areas of your skin by preventing uneven melanin production (the brown pigment your skin makes in response to UV-light exposure). Murad Age Spot & Pigment Gel contains the recommended 2% active ingredient hydroquinone and works best if applied after exfoliating to allow it to penetrate deeper for a longer lasting effect.
And, of course, what article about sun damage would be complete without mentioning the daily use of sunscreen. No matter what the weather is like, whether it’s overcast and cloudy or the sun is beaming down on you, sunscreen should be worn throughout the year (yes, even in winter). There are new regulations put in place by the FDA which stress emphasis on the labelling of broad spectrum sunscreens; these are ones that protect against both the UVA and UVB rays mentioned. This makes it easier to choose high protection sunscreens suited to your skin. Be sure yours has an SPF value of 15 and above. The estimated amount of sunscreen needed to reach appropriate SPF coverage for the entire body is about one ounce so apply liberally and every two hours, at least.
Antioxidants are another useful weapon against sun-induced skin damage. As well as eating antioxidant rich foods like red grapes and berries, there are a whole range of topical creams containing this vital ingredient that allow the skin to absorb the antioxidants directly. Not only do they help protect the DNA of the skin they also defend the collagen and elastic tissue in the skin from free radicals, the main cause of wrinkles and sagging skin.
The effects of sun damage accumulate over time, especially if you don’t actively ensure protection at every opportunity. With the current technology in place to reverse sun damage, it’s never too late to start.