Taking care of your skin isn’t just important when it comes to beauty—it’s fundamental. Good skincare goes beyond beauty, as it’s essential to your health as well. This summer, protect yourself from the number one enemy in your skincare journey: sun damage. Overexposure to the sun can result in a multitude of unwanted skin issues, like premature aging, sun spots, and wrinkles. Worst of all, it increases your risk of certain kinds of cancers. It’s never too late to start protecting your skin from the sun and treating it for signs of sun damage. Read on to learn how.
How To Tell If You Have Sun Damage?
Exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays is responsible for 90% of the visible changes you see in your skin as you age. Sunspots, wrinkles, fine lines, skin laxity, dry skin, and melasma are all signs of sun damage. Almost everyone will experience some form of sun damage on the face, neck, or body in their lives. Chronic overexposure, however, puts you at risk not only of aging faster and damaging the health of your skin, but also of developing skin cancer. That’s why it’s important to prevent and treat the signs of sun damage early if you want to maintain the youthful, healthy look of your skin as you age.
How To Protect Your Skin From Sun Damage
Protecting your skin from the sun is relatively easy—the most important thing is to do it regularly, and consistently:
Limit your time in direct sunlight by sticking to shady spots when you’re enjoying the outdoors, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are at their strongest.
Pay attention to the UV index. The UV index tells you how high the risks of sun exposure are on any given day, and you can usually find this number on your favorite weather app or site. A UV index rating of 10 or higher is a good reason to stay inside.
Accessorize to protect your skin. Hats with broad brims and sunglasses with a high UV absorption rate are essential for guarding the sensitive skin around the eyes, face, and neck during sunny weather.
Avoid sunbathing, sunlamps, tanning beds, and tanning salons. Spray tans and tanning lotion are safer alternatives if you want to achieve a golden glow.
Most importantly, always wear sunscreen. Wearing SPF daily on your face, neck, and the rest of your body is the best tool you have to prevent sun damage and the premature aging it causes.
Why SPF Is Essential For Preventing Sun Damage
Sunscreen that contains an SPF of 30 or higher is the best way to protect your skin from the signs of sun damage—and other risks as well. Exposure to UVA and UVB rays come with the risk of skin cancers and skin precancers. However, regular daily use of SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent, and lower your melanoma risk by 50 percent. For that reason alone, you should strive to wear sunscreen every day. These days, there are several types of sunscreen products available, and it might take some trial and error before you find one that works for your skin type. Here are three things to look for:
Broad-spectrum coverage: Look for a sunscreen that protects from both UVB, the rays that cause sunburn, and UVA, the rays that cause tanning and premature aging. Now that UVA dangers are well known, broad-spectrum sunscreen provides clear information on product labels about protection against both UVB and UVA.
Type of protection: There are two main types of sunscreen protection, physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens most commonly contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, creating a physical barrier that reflects dangerous UV rays. Chemical sunscreens contain chemicals that protect the skin by interacting with and absorbing ultraviolet energy. Both are effective, but depending on your skin type, one may work better for you.
Water-resistant: These are best for activities like swimming or intense exercise. Sunscreens labeled water-resistant are effective at protecting your skin for up to two hours, even if you’re swimming or sweating.
How To Treat Sun Damage With Aesthetic Treatments
Photofacials are a gentle but effective way to safely treat all of the signs of sun damage in one comprehensive treatment. Photofacials use Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology, which penetrates deep into the skin’s layers to resolve fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots, broken capillaries, rosacea, discoloration, and skin laxity. Because it is a non-surgical treatment, you don’t have to worry about unsightly peeling or a prolonged recovery time after a photofacial—in fact, the procedure requires no downtime at all. Photofacials also stimulate the natural production of collagen and elastin, the two elements responsible for keeping skin looking firm, youthful, and refreshed. The technology is safe for all skin types, and all areas of the body, too, including the neck and chest area, which tend to be prone to sun damage.