Warm sunlight washing over our skin may feel nice; however, what’s happening under the epidermis isn’t. Years of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can kill or damage skin cells causing:
- Uneven pigmentation
- Skin discoloration
- Rough texture
- Reduced elasticity
- Reduced collagen production
- Acceleration of the aging process (photoaging)
- Skin cancer
Sunlight helps us produce vitamin D, but just a little too much is enough to damage skin cells. This guide will help you better understand how to lessen the damage that’s already been done and better protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Correcting Past Sun Damage on the Skin
Chances are your skin has experienced some level of sun damage. Fortunately, doctors and researchers have discovered a number of natural ingredients that can help improve the damage that has already been done. They include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Many of these ingredients are found in top-rated skin care products. Lines like Dermaclara also combine multiple products to maximize the effects. Customer reviews of Dermaclara reveal that many users see improvements in the signs of sun damage. When all five products are used together customers note that brown spots, wrinkles and dullness are all reduced.
Skin damage from the sun accumulates every day, which is why it’s important to begin correcting damage and protecting skin as early in life as possible. Creating a routine that you can stick to daily is also important. Moisturizing and protection is needed during the day while cleansing, moisturizing and nourishment is needed at night.
What You Need to Know About SPF
Many people make the mistake of thinking sunscreen is only needed during summer beach vacations. Even in the winter when the sun sets earlier and we’re huddled inside by the fire sunscreen is still a daily requirement for healthy skin. The winter sun can actually be even more harsh because of dryness, windburn and reflection off the snow.
The truth is sun protection is a daily need throughout every season. But today there are so many products with confusing labels that the hassle of selecting a sunscreen is enough to keep some people from using it.
There are really just a few key things to look for, and one of them is SPF.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It’s a gauge of the percentage of UVB rays that are being blocked and how long the protection lasts. Theoretically the number indicates how many times longer the sunscreen protects the skin. For example, SPF 30 prevents UVB damage 30 times longer than the skin’s natural barrier of 20 minutes. However, experts suggest any sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours.
As far as the percentage of UVB rays that are blocked:
- SPF 15 blocks 93%
- SPF 30 blocks 97%
- SPF 50 blocks 98%
A one percent difference is actually quite substantial when you consider that every day the damage is adding up. Experts recommend that you use at least SPF 15 even if you plan to spend just a few minutes outside.
UV Blocking Ingredients to Look For
The main purpose of sunscreen is to block damaging UV rays so they can’t easily penetrate the skin. The FDA has approved a number of ingredients that are proven to block UVA and UVB rays. These include:
Cinnamates (octylmethoxycinnamate and cinoxate)
Benzophenones (oxybenzone and sulisobenzone)
The best sunscreens are broad spectrum. That means they protect against UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays cause burns and skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate to deeper layers of skin causing wrinkles, discoloration and dullness. Typically, two to three of the ingredients above are needed for complete protection.
When in doubt, look for the Skin Cancer Foundation’s seal of approval. This means that the sunscreen contains an ample supply of the UV-blocking ingredients above.
Nothing harms your skin more than the sun. Since forgoing the light of day isn’t a viable option, taking steps to reduce and prevent damage is a necessary part of your daily skin care routine. All it takes is a few extra minutes each morning and night to start seeing the skin you enjoyed in your younger, less sun damaged years.
– Submitted by Katherine Smith