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Your Skin and the Sun: How to Address the Visible Signs of Sun Exposure

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: “All things in moderation.” In fact, we might have said this just the other day in reference to the anti-inflammatory diet section of our Three-Tiered Solution.

We know, we know – that statement tends to have an eyeroll-inducing effect in certain situations (…I’ll have a small bite of that cookie if I want to, thank you very much). But listen, when it comes to sun exposure, hold on the eyeroll for just one second and hear us out.

Sure, we’ve covered the ins and outs of sun damage before; you know the importance of sunscreen and SPF when it comes to protecting your skin from UV rays; and you’ve likely seen our tips for finding the right SPF makeup for you. There’s still one question that remains, though—once the damage (the sun damage, that is) has been done, is it too late? The answer might surprise you.

What causes sun damage?

First and foremost, it’s important to get down to the root of the issue. This isn’t a new topic of discussion by any means, but for the sake of making sure everyone’s on the same page here, let’s have a quick refresher on what actually causes sun damage.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is one of the main environmental elements that causes skin aging, adding an extra dimension to the aging process. Intentionally exposing yourself to the sun—whether it’s in the form of sunbathing outdoors or visiting a tanning salon—both accelerates skin aging and increases the risk of skin cancer.

But what causes all this sun damage is just one piece of the puzzle…

What are the signs of sun damage?

Sun-induced skin aging is a cumulative process, meaning that it increases over time with prolonged exposure. However, the severity of these effects can depend on a variety of factors, including a person’s degree of sun exposure and their skin pigment. People with lighter pigmentation who spend a good amount of time outside (especially those who live in warmer climates) will likely experience the highest degree of photoaging.

Continued exposure to the sun can result in:

  • A loss of skin elasticity
  • Thinner, more translucent-looking skin
  • Wrinkles
  • Dry, leathery skin
  • Broken capillaries

As their name suggests, age spots—the non-raised splotches of increased pigmentation you might also call sunspots or liver spots—are another sign of aged, damaged skin, and also a major symptom of sun damage. While these aren’t dangerous, they aren’t exactly attractive either.

Worst of all, though, too much sun exposure can also result in skin cancer.

The good news? If you take the right precautions, you’re not defenseless in all of this.

What can I do to address the visible signs of sun damage?

First things first—if you’re headed outside, slather on the sunscreen. Can’t see the sun through the clouds? Apply it anyway. It’s the middle of winter? Guess you better bundle up…and put on the SPF. UV rays can cause skin damage during any season, temperature or weather, so protecting yourself from excessive sun exposure is crucial year-round.

For Sensitive Skin Use Vitamin C Ester

For those with reactive or sensitive skin, finding treatments which are strong enough to reduce uneven tone and pigmentation can be a never-ending road of disappointment. Dr. Perricone recommends using fat-soluble Vitamin C to help repair the effects of excess sun exposure without causing unwanted sensitivity. This stable form (Ester) of Vitamin C deeply penetrates problem areas providing a dramatically brighter complexion, minimising uneven tone whilst boosting collagen to smooth fine lines and wrinkles delivering a more radiant and youthful appearance. Want to know more?  Here’s everything you need to know about Vitamin C Ester.)

For Normal Skin Types Use Retinol

For those who do not tend to react to more intensive treatments, Dr. Perricone recommends applying a daily dose of retinol to help minimize uneven tone, texture and pigmentation. Whilst a slight tingling sensation can be experienced upon application, retinol actively penetrates areas of concern to dramatically brighten, firm and treat for a youthful complexion. As retinol can temporarily make skin more sensitive to UVA & UVB rays, always apply a high-quality SPF throughout the day and wear protective clothing.