Sunlight is beneficial to your overall health and well-being. However, the cumulative effects of sun exposure take a significant toll on the health and appearance of your skin. Over time, the damaging effects of UV radiation contribute to wrinkles, sagging, and skin discoloration; symptoms once believed an unavoidable result of the aging process. Protecting skin from sun damage reduces visible signs of aging up to 90% while reducing your risk of skin cancer.

To preserve the health and appearance of your skin, consider the value of the following suggestions.

Wear Sunscreen Daily

Many people mistakenly believe they only need sunscreen during prolonged exposure to direct sunlight to avoid summer sunburns. This is an unfortunate misconception. Protecting skin from sunburn is important; UV radiation is a proven carcinogen present during all daylight hours regardless of seasonal temperatures. As UV rays penetrate the skin, they trigger a chain of reactive events. Some reactions are visible within hours, others may not be apparent for decades.

The first visible sign of UV damage: increased melanin production, a tan. That summer tan is evidence that skin is fighting to protect itself from further damage, including damage to collagen fibers. As collagen damage triggers the production of abnormal elastin fibers, elastin damage triggers the release of enzymes that can cause irregularities in the way skin repairs. With repeated cycles of collagen and elastin damage, wrinkles form.

That’s why applying sunscreen daily to exposed skin should be as natural as brushing your teeth. To protect your skin from visible sun damage and skin cancer, select a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 2 hours.

Focus on Antioxidants

Oxidative stress, the same chemical reaction that tarnishes silver and transforms iron to rust, is caused by free-radical damage. A free radical is a molecule with an unpaired electron. Once that electron becomes lost, free radicals compensate by stealing an electron from another molecule for stability. The second molecule pulls an electron from a third molecule and so on, causing a cascade of cellular damage. Although free radicals can be found in everything from the foods you eat to the air you breathe, sun exposure is a leading cause of free-radical damage.

That’s why so many skin care experts agree that antioxidant-rich foods, dietary supplements, and the topical application of antioxidant-rich serums and moisturizers are so beneficial to skin’s health and appearance. Antioxidants neutralize the effects of free radicals and help your body minimize or reverse the effects of oxidative stress.

Pay Attention to Product Ingredients

Many skin care products contain active ingredients selected for specific skin benefits. These include skin cell turnover, collagen production, moisture retention, and more. As many popular skincare ingredients improve tone and texture, they can also increase the risk of sun damage. Just a few of the many product ingredients known to increase sensitivity include:

  • Retinol

    Also known as vitamin A, retinol is added to skincare products to increase cell turnover, enhance collagen and elastin production, and fade evidence of hyperpigmentation. While these functions can have a significant impact on the health and appearance of your skin, many skin care experts recommend using retinol at night to reduce the risk of UV damage.

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids

    Popular in acne-fighting and skin-brightening products, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) keep skin smooth by removing dead skin cells from the surface and improving moisture retention. Due to their continuous method of exfoliation, it’s best to avoid sun exposure for 24 hours after use. Continuous use increases your risk of sunburn and skin damage.

  • Hydroquinone

    Available by prescription, hydroquinone is a lightening agent used to fade hyperpigmentation by decreasing melanin production. The decrease in melanin production makes skin far more susceptible to the damaging effects of UV radiation while increasing the risk of future hyperpigmentation and skin cancer. If you are using a skin-lightening product containing hydroquinone, be sure to avoid direct sun exposure.

You can further reduce your risk of sun damage by avoiding spending time outdoors between 10 am and 3 pm, staying in the shade or wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and using fragrance-free skincare products. Many of the chemicals and compounds used to create fragrances are shown to increase the risk of sun sensitivity, photoaging, and skin cancer.

To reduce the visible effects of sun damage in Dayton, OH, contact Dr. James Apesos to schedule a consultation and discuss your treatment options. Dr Apesos offers a wide range of skin rejuvenation methods shown to improve tone and texture, enhance collagen production, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by sun exposure.