Skin and Sun

Did you know that there are two very distinct types of skin aging?

The first is called intrinsic aging, and it has to basically do with our genes and how well we produce collagen and elastin. Signs of intrinsic skin aging can include fine wrinkles, thin or transparent skin, lack of underlying fat leading to a loss of firmness in skin tone, and/or dry skin that might be itchy.

The second type of skin aging is known as extrinsic aging and is caused by environmental factors, mostly by exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Other external factors that prematurely age our skin are repetitive facial expressions which can cause creasing, and smoking. But back to the sun - without protection, just a few minutes of sun exposure each day over the years can cause noticeable skin changes! Freckles, age spots, spider veins on the face, rough and leathery skin, fine wrinkles that disappear when stretched, a blotchy complexion, rough, reddish patches of skin, and skin cancer all have sun exposure as their root cause.

“Photoaging” is the term dermatologists use to describe this type of aging caused by exposure to the sun. The amount of photoaging you have going on depends on: 1) skin color (fair skin is at higher risk of aging) and 2) your track record of long-term or intense sun exposure.

With repeated exposure to the sun, the skin loses the ability to repair itself, and the damage starts to accumulate. Scientific studies have shown that repeated UV exposure breaks down collagen and interferes with the synthesis of new collagen. The sun also attacks our elastin, so skin also becomes loose, wrinkled, and leathery much earlier with unprotected exposure to sunlight.

While it may seem that the signs of photoaging appear overnight, they actually lie invisible under the surface of the skin for years.

So what to do? Some easy things to do to combat skin aging from the sun are:

  1. Avoid deliberate tanning – you may think that you like the way darker skin looks now, but trust us…your future self will thank you for avoiding the inevitable leathery, wrinkled skin that comes from tanning.
  2. When possible, stay out of the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., when the sun’s rays are usually the strongest.
  3. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and good quality sunglasses.
  4. Apply sunscreen year round. Sunscreen should be broad spectrum (offers UVA and UVB protection) and have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or 45, although super high SPF does not protect all that much more than these, and is usually not worth the cost. It is more effective to apply a 30 or a 45 sunscreen liberally and more frequently than to splurge on an ultra-high SPF. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before going outdoors and should be reapplied after sweating a lot or being in water.

Of course, you can also give your skin a much deserved treatment. Talk to one of our estheticians, and they'll take excellent care of your unique skin care needs. Book a 20 minute consultation here.