Even in today’s world, where a wealth of knowledge can be found with the click of a button, many people are still unaware of how damaging the effects of the sun can be. While everyone wants some fun in the sun, too much UV exposure causes skin deterioration and photo-aging; robbing skin of its youthful appearance and leading to unsightly pigment changes including red and brown spots. Damage accumulates with each sun exposure and increases exponentially when a sunburn occurs, damaging your skin’s DNA and causing persistent inflammation and oxidative stress.
Prevention is Key
Even those with the best intentions often have sun-related skin issues. That’s why prevention is so important! It’s always best to avoid too much sun exposure and sunburn. If you diligently take the right steps to properly protect yourself, it’s likely you will avoid sunburns and the short-term consequences that come along with them, including painful inflammation, redness, blistering, and the long-term risks of skin damage and skin cancer.
Here are some signs of sun damage you shouldn’t ignore.
- Increased area of wrinkles and irregular pigmentation.
- Deep wrinkles, vertical creases and loose, sagging skin due to a condition called solar elastosis.
- Solar lentigines, commonly known as liver spots, that can develop even at a young age and eventually spread throughout the body with age.
- Brown lesions, known as labial lentigo, that can appear on the lips.
- “Mask of pregnancy” or melasma which can result in a brown darkening of facial skin. This condition also occurs with an increase in estrogen and progesterone, as in pregnancy.
- Poikiloderma, a reddish-brown pigmentation that forms in irregular patches.
- Scaly raised patches also known as actinic or solar keratosis that may appear flesh color to pink or brown.
- Lentigo maligna, a growth which begins as a dark flat spot that gradually darkens and enlarges after long-term sun exposure.
To minimize damage to your skin by repeated sun exposure, wear protective clothing like a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and loose-fitting clothing. Apply an SPF of 25 or higher to exposed skin and reapply frequently. When choosing a sunscreen, here are some things to consider.
Physical Barrier Sunscreens
Sometimes referred to as mineral or inorganic sunscreens, physical barrier sunscreens use filters to deflect and scatter UV rays from the surface of the skin, protecting the skin almost like an umbrella. Inorganic sunscreens include zinc and titanium and provide the best protection from sun damage. In the case of sunscreens “inorganic” is good!
Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, use chemical filters to absorb the energy of UV rays, converting it to heat that is dispersed in the skin. This conversion is known to prevent sunburn but can have harmful effects on your skin. Ironically, chemical sunscreens are called “organic”, clearly this is one time when “organic” may not be as desired.
Susceptibility to Sun Damage
To take the most effective measures to protect your skin from photo-aging, it’s crucial to be aware if you’re genetically more predisposed to the damaging effects of the sun. Dr. Ruthie Harper recommends her SKINSHIFT DNA test to determine if your skin is biologically more prone to sun damage. Only when fully educated can you effectively protect your skin and have optimal health and beauty.
Take the most effective measures to protect your skin from photo-aging. Dr. Harper recommends her SKINSHIFT DNA test that analyzes five key areas of skin health, including your skin’s ability to protect itself from sun exposure. The SKINSHIFT® skin care line is scientifically formulated for the genetic skin type that is uniquely yours. Dr. Harper developed SKINSHIFT® by combining the latest breakthroughs in skincare technology with natural ingredients like phytochemicals, antioxidants, and peptides; helping you improve the health and appearance of your skin from the inside and outside.
Book an appointment at Ruthie Harper MD for a skin, health and beauty consultation.