Nothing ages you faster than sun-damaged skin. Regardless if you tan or burn, if you’re young or old, sun damage can happen at any age.
Did you know just one sunburn can increase your risk of developing skin cancer?
When your skin absorbs UVB rays from sunlight, it generally results in direct damage to the genetic material in your skin cells.
Unsurprisingly, the more time spent outdoors without sun protection, the higher the risk. Early exposure in life also increases your chances of melanoma, and tanning beds are obviously a big no-no.
In addition to health issues, sun damage can also lead to premature aging, a breakdown of collagen, and an array of pesky skin imperfections.
Signs of Sun-Damaged Skin
While a sunburn is the most obvious giveaway of sun damage, here are the most common signs your skin has suffered damage by sun rays.
• Age Spots
• Loose skin
• Blotchy or ruddy complexion
• Thinner, more translucent skin
• Rosacea, broken capillaries
• Spider veins
• Irregular moles
While many of these skin concerns may be cosmetic, it’s important to stay alert for any changes in appearance, note any itching, and see your dermatologist annually for an examination.
Actinic keratosis (AK) is the most common type of precancer found on UV damaged skin. It looks like raised, scaly, rough patches, similar to warts. They mostly appear on the face, scalp, ears, arms, and hands and may begin to itch. The color can range from red to pink to dark tan.
Can You Reverse Sun Damage?
While impossible to go back in time and undo DNA damage caused by UV rays, there are products and facial treatments that can improve your skin’s appearance.
Treatments and products that promote cell turnover and collagen repair are ideal for a multitude of sun damage concerns, like dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
Best Ingredients for Sun Damaged Skin
These ingredients are readily available in most skincare products on shelves these days. While some products can be used in the AM and PM, others may increase photosensitivity and are best used at night.
Of course, you should always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every single day.
Retinoids (Vitamin A)
It’s no secret dermatologists love retinoids for their cell turnover and collagen boosting power. Topical retinoids can reduce fine lines, improve acne, fade dark spots, unclog pores, and improve the skin’s overall texture.
Vitamin C repairs existing damage while blocking new damage caused by free radicals. When used in conjunction with sunscreen, it can improve sun protection efforts.
Found in nourishing serums and moisturizers, this powerhouse ingredient easily fits into your skincare routine. By creating a protective barrier, this antioxidant improves epidermis function and boosts elasticity. It’s also known to improve sun spots and pigmentation, plus decrease yellowing or splotchy skin.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHAs)
Best used in the evening, AHAs, including lactic acid and glycolic acid can target hyperpigmentation and acne scarring with their exfoliation power.
Peptides are chains of amino acids and proteins that naturally exist in the skin. Peptides are viewed as a promising anti-aging ingredient because they send signals to cells to produce more collagen. Peptides are also used for wound healing and are known to repair and rebuild damaged cells.
Best Treatments for Sun Damaged Skin
Chemical peels remove the top surface layer of the skin to quickly improve the appearance and texture. It works miracles on fine lines, sunspots, and wrinkles, as well as for pigmentation or uneven skin tone.
IPL (Intensified Pulse Light)
This laser treatment targets a range of skin concerns as a result of sun damage, such as freckles, brown spots, broken capillaries, and rosacea. After the treatment, brown spots will emerge to the top surface of the skin and eventually flake off.
Radio Frequency Skin Tightening
RF skin tightening uses low radiation to penetrate a deeper epidermal layer to improve elasticity and tighten the skin. This non-invasive treatment stimulates collagen growth and is ideal for wrinkles and sagging skin.
Sunscreen: Your Best Defense
Obviously, it’s no surprise that your best defense against sun-damaged skin and premature aging is sun protection.
Wearing a high broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, even on overcast days, is super important for healthy skin. Look for products that block both UVA and UVB rays and offer at least 30 SPF.
Limit exposure outdoors during peak sun times, and wear hats, sunglasses, and clothing for additional coverage. Remember, just because you don’t see the damage now, doesn’t mean it won’t show up later.