Sun Damage & Prevention
When it comes to our skin health, the number one thing that we can do is prevent our skin from experiencing UV (or sun) damage. Now, when I say “sun damage,” I am not just talking about getting burnt like a lobster (but hey, let’s definitely try to avoid that, too). I am referring to consistent exposure to the sun that slowly breaks down collagen, creates fine lines, thins the skin, and causes sun spots and freckles as we get older.
In our teens and twenties, we might not have even thought twice about those boat trips where we spent hours upon hours in the sun with no hat or SPF, and we definitely didn’t worry about finding the shade while on spring break with all of our friends in the 100 degree sun.
But I’m here to tell you that all of those long days in the sun, plus your daily exposure to UV rays from walking outside, driving in your car, or working next to a window will catch up to you eventually – if you aren’t protecting you delicate skin! But hey, don’t beat yourself up if you were a sun goddess in your younger years, because I was a sun WORSHIPPER myself! It’s never too late to start caring for your skin health!
So Let’s talk about the best tips to keep your skin healthy and even reverse sun damage that you may have developed from your younger years.
1.) The first thing you can do to prevent sun damage and protect your skin is to wear sunscreen daily.
Sunscreen will shield the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. These rays emit from the sun and penetrate the skin, causing DNA changes in the skin and leading to premature skin aging and skin cancer. I suggest looking for a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and to use physical sunscreens (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) instead of chemical sunscreens (octinoxate, oxybenzone, octisalate, avobenzone, etc).
I suggest putting sunscreen on your face every single morning towards the end of your skincare routine (right after moisturizing), as you are constantly exposing yourself to UV rays throughout the day, whether you realize it or not. And yes, UV rays penetrate through windows and through your car windshield! If you are outside consistently for more than 2 hours, be sure to reapply sunscreen as it loses its effectiveness over time.
2.) The second thing I suggest is wearing a hat and protective layers when outside for longer than 30 minutes at a time.
The sun’s rays can be extremely powerful. Simply wearing a hat or shielding your skin from direct exposure to the sun can really help protect the skin and prevent sunburn. I wear a hat every time I go outside, even for 20 minutes, as letting my face hit the sun for even a few minutes brings out all of my underlying sun damage. Do you ever notice that in the summer, you suddenly have more “freckles” than you did in the winter? Yep, that is your sun damage popping back out from being out in the sun again. Also, I have scars on my face from an accident a few years back, and letting my facial scars get pelted by UV rays makes them appear more prominent. So, I just throw on my hat or visor or umbrella and keep my skin covered! Little side note: I also notice that my melasma doesn’t pop out as much when I wear a hat outside, which is great for my confidence! I have melasma on my top lip and it looks like I have a mustache when it’s bad!
3.) Next, I suggest focusing on your skincare and using medical grade products that stop pigment in its tracks!
So what causes pigment to change on the skin? It is this pesky thing called melanin. Melanin is created within the skin as a natural form of protection against harmful rays. When the skin is exposed to UV rays, melanin production increases, and this is how we get tan. However, it is also how we develop sun damage, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation.
Using skincare that can slow down the production of melanin, and even reverse this overproduction of melanin in areas of our face, can drastically help with evening out skin tone and balancing the skin’s pigment again.
Ingredients that block melanin include (but are not limited to):
This is why I personally love using the Brightening C Serum daily, as it contains ingredients, such as vitamin C, that block melanin production and remove dark spots from the skin.
4.) Creating new skin cells is the key to pulling up damaged skin cells, so that’s why I also suggest using products that exfoliate dead and damaged skin cells off of your face!
My number one suggestion here is going to be using RETINOL! Retinol is amazing for increasing skin cell turnover, naturally improving exfoliation of damaged cells, and bringing new and healthy tissue to the surface! This will help so much with pulling up sun damaged skin and revealing new and glowing skin underneath.
Now, retinol is an amazing product, but be cautious as using too much too fast is not a good thing! It can irritate and dry the skin if you don’t start slow, so always begin by using once a week and only in the evening. I highly suggest using our Retinol 0.25% pads as they are gentle, effective, and pre-treated with the exact amount of solution that your face needs to see big results!
Retinol is always suggested at night because it can actually make the skin more sensitive to the sun and therefore, is best to apply at night when you won’t risk sun exposure. And of course, when using retinol, you must wear sunscreen daily to keep the skin protected (I know you are already planning to do that after reading this far in the blog!).
5.) Lastly, I suggest getting skin treatments done depending on how severe your damage may be.
Skin treatments can surely improve sun damage. My favorite treatments for sun damage, in no particular order, are:
Chemical peels – chemical solutions lighten and pull up pigment from deep in the skin and can reveal new, healthy skin
Microneedling with PRP – microneedling stimulates new collagen and new skin cells, but using PRP adds an entire new element. PRP is anti-inflammatory and can actually shut down melanin production deep into the tissue, which can really help with pesky skin conditions like melasma
Lasers – lasers are often great choices for pigment as they heat the skin, remove layers of dead skin cells, and heals the skin to remove dark spots and sun damage deep in the skin. *I do NOT recommend lasers or any heat-induced procedures for women suffering from melasma as this will make melasma worse
IPL – Also called “intense pulsed light,” this treatment uses light to penetrate into the skin and pull up pigment, bringing it up and out of the skin and removing it to reveal even skin underneath
Microdermabrasion – this is a gentle form of exfoliation that can help stimulate skin cell turnover, which removes damaged skin cells and stimulates the skin to creation of new and healthy skin
Your provider will work with you to create a game plan for how many treatments you need, what treatments will be best for your goals, and recommending other options that I may not have mentioned here. I always suggest finding a reputable business to get these treatments done at, such as a plastic surgery center or accredited med spa, and see about setting up a free consultation!
The key to removing sun damage and KEEPING your skin free of sun spots and fine lines is being consistent and protecting your skin daily. Implement the five tips that I lined out above, and you will surely see a big change (take before pics so you can compare!). You’ll be amazed at how much your skin can heal and repair itself simply by keeping your face and body from additional UV damage! I’ve seen it for myself and know that it is possible to remove unwanted pigment and dark spots!