The Problem – Both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) can burn the top skin layer. Sunburn can cause wrinkling by breaking down the skin’s elastic tissue (collagen and elastin). Ultraviolet B can cause skin cancer, especially in fair-skinned individuals, which have less protective pigmentation (melanin). Here are some things you can do to protect skin from the sun naturally, to make you look and feel younger.
Make Sunscreen Your Best Friend
Be Consistent: Always make an effort to use sunscreen whenever you plan to stay outdoors, especially during the spring and summer months. Keep sunscreen in a dark and cool place in your car so that you will always have it available. Promptly discard it after the expiration date and sooner if it is kept in a hot environment.
Application Is Key: As a general rule, apply sunscreen every 1 to 2 hours. Use a sport sunscreen if you will be sweating excessively or swimming. Cover all exposed areas of skin with sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher and don’t forget to use at least a 30 SPF lip balm. For more information see the Sunscreen article on Wikipedia.
Watch The Clock
Exposure Time: Generally speaking, you should not stay in the midday sun without protection for longer than 20 to 30 minutes a day, and only 5 to 10 minutes if you are prone to burn easily. If you have a history of severe sun skin damage (actinic keratosis) or skin cancer, then use an SPF of 60 or higher for a complete block.
Dress Appropriately And Accessorize
Plan your day: If you will not be sunbathing or swimming then cover up as much as practically (and fashionably) possible. Wear a long sleeve shirt and pants if weather permits. Darker colors can block more ultraviolet rays but also tend to be hotter than lighter ones. A wide-brim hat can help protect your scalp, face, and neck. Add sunglasses to protect the skin around your eyes, as well as the eye itself (retinal damage can cause macular degeneration).
If you want to protect your eyes and face at the same time then the SolaVisor is one of my favorite pieces of sun wear. It’s very lightweight and attaches to your sunglasses so it does not mess up your hair.
It’s a great idea if you need stylish sun protection. I use one myself and it works great! I highly recommend that you try this visor!
Sun Can Do Unexpected Things To Your Skin!
Skin Cream and Lotion Reactions: Various topical (applied to your body) skincare products purchased over the counter and by prescription can react with the sun to cause an allergic reaction with your unprotected skin (photo-allergic reaction). This reaction can cause a severe rash that may spread to other parts of your body.
Medication Reactions: Certain medications that are applied topically, ingested in pill-pill form, and given by injection or intravenously (through an IV) can react with ultraviolet rays to create a toxic chemical compound. This compound can severely damage your skin directly in that area of sun exposure (photo-toxic reaction).
Common medications that can cause sun sensitivity (photo-allergic and photo-toxic) reactions include those to treat the following conditions.
- Acne: Benzoyl Peroxide, and Isotretinoin (Accutaine)
- Allergy: Diphenhydramine
- Inflammation: Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Celecoxib
- Depression: Doxepin
- High Blood Pressure: Hydrocholorothiazide and Diltiazem
- Infection: Doxycycline, Ciprofloxacin, and Levofloxacin
- High Cholesterol: Atorvastatin, Simvastatin, and other “statins”
If you have a severe sun reaction seek the help of a qualified healthcare provider immediately.
Disease Reactivation: Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can also reactivate medical conditions such as herpes, shingles, or lupus (an autoimmune disorder).
Antioxidants – The Skin’s Best Friend: Eat a healthy diet that is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants can protect the skin from damage (by free radicals) caused by ultraviolet light. They also can help prevent a variety of diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart attack.
Foods That Contain Antioxidants
- Mangoes Peaches, Apricots, Cantaloupe, and Tomatoes (technically a fruit)
- Oranges, Strawberries, and Blueberries
- Kiwi, Avocados, Blackberries, and Cranberries (dried)
- Raspberries, Plums, and Pomegranates
- Squash, Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Spinach, and Beans
- Green Peppers, Cabbage, and Kale
- Leafy Green Vegetables
- Parsley, Basil, Garlic, Onion
- Nuts, Seeds, and Whole Grains
- Spices – such as Pepper, Oregano, Sage, Thyme, Clove, and Cinnamon
Fish and Shellfish, including:
- Whitefish, Tuna, and Salmon
- Clams, Mussels, Scallops, and Oysters
- Crab and Lobster
- Shrimp and Prawn
Lean Meats and Milk (an animal byproduct), including:
- Chicken and Turkey
- Pork, Veal, and Lamb
- Low Fat Beef (90% meat/10% fat)
For more information see Foods High In Antioxidant – Eating Smart For Better Health.
Reversing Sun Damage
Not all skin damage can be repaired, especially in severe cases. Therefore, the best approach to good skincare is to prevent as much sun damage as possible.
Here are some products that can be helpful in restoring skin to its natural look and feel.
- Vitamin C: This antioxidant has a double benefit. It can both prevent skin damage from free radicals and repair skin by stimulating the production of collagen.
- Vitamin A derivatives (retinols and retinoids): These derivatives can heal the skin by stimulating the production of skin capillaries and collagen. These are among the most popular compounds, especially with dermatologists.
- Niacinamide (also known as Nicotinamide or Vitamin B3): Another antioxidant that protects against ultraviolet sun damage and repairs skin by decreasing pigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles.
- Azelaic acid: A mild organic acid with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to protect and repair skin by reducing redness and swelling.
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): Another group of mild organic acids that can exfoliate dead and damaged skin while stimulating collagen production and increasing blood flow.
Summing It All Up
The sun can be warm, comforting, and a prime ingredient of summer fun. Reversing sun damage is much more difficult than preventing it, to begin with. It is important to protect your skin at all times form the harmful long term effects of ultraviolet radiation. For the most complete protection, the best approach is to use a combination of the various methods described above. People of all age groups can benefit from these recommendations.
Tell Us What You Think!
Please let us know what’s on your mind in the comment section.
- Do you have any important tips or suggestions?
- How do you protect yourself from the sun?
- Do you know anyone with severe skin damage? What was their solution?