The sun is a symbol of strength, power and life—but too much of it is also the biggest factor against healthy, youthfully vibrant skin. Not only can prolonged exposure cause skin cancer, but it’s also the top reason behind the manifestation of the signs of aging like dullness, sagging, and leathery texture along with the premature appearance of wrinkles and dark spots.
Is it possible to minimize the effects and even revitalize skin that’s already experienced sun overexposure? Absolutely. It’s never too late.
How the Sun Visibly Damages Skin
In the short term, sun exposure depletes the skin of its natural hydration (remember healthy-looking skin is full of plumping hydration and moisture). Dehydrated skin can look more fatigued and lackluster than hydrated skin.
More significantly, UVA/UVB rays affect the skin’s physiological structure. UVA rays (the type that cause premature aging) penetrate deeper into the dermis than UVB rays (the type that cause redness and burning). UVA rays thus have the ability to deplete collagen, the essential naturally occurring protein that keeps skin firm and bouncy. As we age, the amount of collagen in our skin naturally declines, but sun damage can significantly accelerate this process.
The Long-Term Effects of Sun Damage
The long-term effects of sun damage include the formation of wrinkles and fine lines, the appearance of dark spots (particularly on the face and hands), and sagging. Although wrinkles and sagging are a result of depleted collagen and increased dryness, dark spots usually appear because there is an increase in melanin production in certain areas. Dark spots are usually harmless, but they can make skin appear uneven.
Sun exposure over a lifetime can also cause skin cancer if left unchecked. If you have light skin and eyes, try to check in with a dermatologist at least once a year. You should also pay attention to any changes in the skin that seem unusual, or changes in the size and shape of any moles you may have.
Who Is More Susceptible to Sun Damage?
Generally speaking, people with light skin and eyes are more susceptible to sun damage since they have less melanin, which protects the skin from sun damage—this is precisely why many people darken, or tan, after exposure. People with deeper skin tones are less susceptible to sun damage, but that doesn’t mean they can forgo sunscreen and other protective measures. Everyone is susceptible to sun damage and should equally take precautionary measures.
Always wear a reef-safe, mineral sunscreen for ample, healthy protection. Use at least broad-spectrum SPF (sun protection factor) 30 and reapply every 2 hours at the least (or after swimming, sweating, and toweling off). A broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays is best, so you neither burn nor damage your collagen.
Another step you can take is avoiding the sun during peak hours (usually between 10am and 4pm). When you’re at the beach or by the pool, try sitting under an umbrella or inside a tent to keep the sun off your skin, or wear hats and protective clothing for an added layer of protection.
By the way, although limiting sun exposure is usually the best way to look younger for longer, being outdoors and getting fresh air and sunlight are also good for you. Just make sure you’re taking a reasonable, balanced approach and it will make a huge difference in the long term.
How to Repair Sun Damage
Vitamin C all the way! It’s truly a powerhouse ingredient (and one of the most studied, proven, and dermatologist-recommended skincare ingredients—ever). It can lighten the appearance of dark spots and increase overall radiance while also boosting collagen production naturally and enhancing the efficacy of sunscreen too.
If you’re not sure where to start with vitamin C, try our Camu Camu line. Camu Camu is an antioxidant-rich berry with an extraordinarily high vitamin C content—more than acai even. The natural vitamin C in Camu Camu helps revitalize sun-damaged skin by reducing the appearance of dark spots. By boosting collagen production in the skin, vitamin C is also able to reduce the appearance of wrinkles while preventing new ones from forming (when used regularly and diligently). As previously mentioned, vitamin C even improves the effectiveness of sunscreen so you’re doubly protected. It’s a win-win-WIN. Luminous: The Camu Collection and the Aurora Radiance Discovery Kit also make great gifts for the holidays.
The LUXE Botanics Team