Fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. These are all signs of—not just ageing—skin damage. Not to mention, all of these signs of skin damage are caused by sun exposure. The damage doesn’t stop there, though. Of course, you probably already know that overexposure to the sun’s dangerous UV (i.e., ultraviolet) rays can lead to skin cancer, but did you know that overexposure can also lead to precancer, such as actinic keratosis? This is because the damage isn’t caused overnight, rather the dangers of sun damage to one’s body become greater as they spend more time in the sun. This is exactly why it’s never too late to start a healthy SPF habit.
We understand, however, that many adults don’t consider a sun protection routine until they start to see signs of sun damage. Which is why we’ve put together this guide, offering you a few key tips to keep in mind if you’ve noticed those first signs of skin damage.
Yes! A sunburn is one of the very first signs of skin damage. For the majority of people, a sunburn is very painful—this is the skins way of signaling that it’s had enough sun and that it’s been damaged. As with many injuries, you can soothe injured skin by applying a cool compress. Depending on the severity, you may choose to take an OTC pain medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen to ease the pain. As the skin starts to heal it is crucial that you apply moisture, such as aloe or an after-sun lotion, to prevent the skin from peeling, flaking, or scarring.
Uneven Skin Tone
Although many attribute blotchy or uneven skin to just age, it results from both age and sun exposure. This happens when the outermost layer of skin dies and begins to build up and isn’t removed. The good thing is it can be easily repaired through exfoliation. A scrub-like wash is good for an all-over exfoliation but can be a bit rough on the face. Although, if you do notice dullness or uneven skin on the face, a cleanser formulated with alpha hydroxy acid will do a great job at removing dead and damaged skin.
Another sign of damaged skin that comes along with both age and accumulation of overexposure to the sun. The most aggressive and effective way to reverse the discoloration is by essentially bleaching them. Of course, this sounds much scarier than it is—no, the spots will not go from brown to bright white. Rather, it will lighten the skin to diminish the appearance of dark spots. Products with kojic acid, hydroquinone, and mild steroids are all useful for the reduction of age or sun spots; depending on the severity of your skin damage, it may be worth a trip to the dermatologist for a prescription strength topical.
Repair With Care
Although you should already be applying sunscreen on a daily basis, there is absolutely no excuse not to use an SPF when you’ve noticed sun damage. Sunscreen doesn’t just protect against skin damage—it also allows your skin to heal itself properly by giving your immune system the chance to repair the damage without being weakened by the harmful rays.