Surprising ways the sun impacts your skin
The sun's UV rays can greatly impact the condition of the skin. While sitting with our faces toward the sun makes us feel so good, it is important to remember that we have to be vigilant about our sun care.
About UV rays
Let's talk about UVA and UVB rays. An easy way to remember what they do to the skin is to look at the letter after UV. The UVA rays are the Aging rays, while the UVB rays are the Burning rays.
While we think of a sunburn or a tan (which is also DAMAGED skin) as just sitting on top of the skin, the reality is that the sun's UV rays penetrate deeply into the skin and cause damage at the cellular level. Often, the signs of sun damage do not become visible until later in life.
Every single time your skin is unprotected and exposed to the sun, changes are taking place in the structure of your skin cells.
1. UV rays, over time, damage the skin's elastin. When elastin fibers break down, skin sagging occurs. Once elastin breaks down and skin has begun sagging and stretching, your skin no longer has the ability to return the way it was.
While we recognize a sunburn as a popular sign of skin damage caused by the sun, there are other, less visible signs:
2. Skin's ability to heal becomes diminished. When this happens, you bruise more easily. Skin tearing is also more common.
3. Age spots AKA sun spots or liver spots are another sign of sun damage, I remember my grandmother. She always had her nails done, her sparkling, glitzy jewelry on, and when I would stare at all of the baubles and color, I always noticed the brown spots all over her hands. As a child, I just thought that it was something "old people" had. I did not realize that the spots were signs of sun damage. It makes sense. She was Greek, with olive skin. She NEVER applied sunscreen. She was from the generation where one didn't use it. She put oil on her skin to become more tan (more skin damage). These pigmentation changes aren't just a fact of aging, they are signs of sun damage. Always remember that your hands need sunscreen, too.
4. Do you have Rosacea? According to the National Rosacea Society, the sun is the #1 Rosacea trigger. Even incidental sun exposure, such as getting out of your car at the mall and walking from the parking lot can be enough to bring on a flare up. That is why sunscreen is key.
5. Dryness can be another side effect of UV damage. Skin may feel tight or have a leathery appearance.
6. The sun's rays can aggravate other skin conditions, too. I have an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and one of the signs that I had that something was not right was the fact that my skin was in a state of chaos. I have had chronic hives and eczema -- across my eyelids, neck and arms. Even the slightest amount of sunshine makes this worse. I NEED the sun for my mood, so being even more careful about applying and reapplying sunscreen is a must. Lupus is another autoimmune condition where patients need to be extra vigilant about wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen daily.
What can you do? Here are our top tips:
1. Always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen, even when it is cloudy.
2. Choose a physical (MINERAL) formula for safer protection without harmful chemicals.
3. Make sure you are applying an adequate amount of sunscreen in order for it to be effective. The recommended amount is 2 tablespoons - about the size of a shot glass.
4. Stay hydrated - internally and externally. Make sure you are drinking water and make sure that you are keeping your skin hydrated with a healthy body moisturizer.
My favorite sunscreens:
Stick - Beautycounter Sunscreen Stick
Facial SPF - Paula's Choice Super Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30
My favorite body moisturizers:
Cream/Butter - Clinique Deep Comfort Body Butter