A light suntan can give your skin a healthy glow and even make you look at little slimmer, but be cautious about getting too much sun as this can cause your skin to age quicker.
Sunlight helps our bodies to make vitamin D, and this is essential for good physical and psychological health. Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium to keep bones strong. Vitamin D also helps maintain the body’s natural sleeping and waking cycles and plays a part in keeping depression at bay. But extreme and prolonged sun exposure can be hazardous to skin, as UV rays in sunlight damages skin cells, which can lead to cancer and premature aging.
Sun and skin damage
Sunlight reaches the earth’s surface as both visible and invisible rays of both long and short wavelengths. Long waves such as radio waves are harmless to people, but shorter waves such as ultraviolet or UV rays can harm skin cells. Scientists have identified three types of UV rays – Ultraviolet A (UVA), Ultraviolet B (UVB) and Ultraviolet C (UVC) – that each have different wavelengths. Excessive exposure to UVB is the reason we get sunburn which irritates the topmost epidermal layer of the skin.
Fortunately, our skin is usually able to reverse sunburn damage by shedding the dead, topmost epidermal cells and replacing them with new cells. That’s what’s happening when the uppermost layer of your skin heals and peels away a week of two after a sunburn and new, smoother skin replaces the dead skin. “When you’re exposed to ultraviolet radiation, there’s a repair process that goes on constantly in each one of your exposed cells,” says Dr. Stephen I. Katz, director of at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Sun and skin cancer
Too much sun exposure can cause cell mutations, which contribute to skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States and UV rays are the culprit. All three types of UV rays can damage your skin cell’s DNA resulting in the growth of cancerous cells. UVB rays travel much deeper than UVA rays and are responsible for altering your skin cells DNA. When skin cell DNA mutates, growing and dividing at an abnormally rapid rate. The accretion of extra cells formed during this mutation creates tumors or lesions which may be benign or cancerous.
Sun and skin aging
Besides increasing your risk of developing skin cancer, too much sun exposure can also cause skin to lose its elasticity and age quicker. “The more sun exposure you have, the earlier your skin ages,” says Dr. Barnett S. Kramer, a cancer prevention expert at the NIH. As you get older, your skin’s ability to repair itself decreases. Extensive UV exposure can damage your skin’s underlying connective tissue, resulting in more wrinkles and fine lines showing up on your face. Premature aging caused by excessive sun exposure is known as photoaging. This happens when UV rays cause skin to become thick, rough and leathery, or to develop fine and coarse wrinkles, large freckle-like spots called lentigines, or irregular pigmentation. Those with fairer skin tones are more susceptible to photoaging, that’s why gingers get sunburns quicker. However, almost everyone’s skin will see some sun damage over time.
How to prevent sun damage to skin
So what can you do to prevent sun damage if you spend a lot of time outdoors? In most parts of the world, UV rays are at their strongest between 10am and 4pm in summer, so limit the amount of time you spend outdoors in the direct sunlight during these hours. If you will be outdoors in strong sunlight, use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. SPF measures the amount of dangerous UVB rays that a sunscreen can filter out and according to dermatologists, SPF 30 sunscreens will prevent about 97 percent of UVB rays from entering your skin cells. If you’re spending the day at the beach or by the pool, hiking or playing golf, it’s important to ensure that all exposed areas of your skin are covered in enough sunscreen. Dermatologist Adarsh Vijay Mudgil suggests applying a base coat of SPF 30 all over your body half an hour before you go outdoors, then reapplying every two hours. If you’re swimming, Mugdil says it’s a good idea to reapply each time you are out of the water.
How to prevent sun damage to face
Sun damage to skin is usually most noticeable on the face as sunspots, uneven skin tone and wrinkles and lines on the forehead and around the eyes, mouth, and neck. To reduce sun damage to facial skin, apply sunscreen on your face, wear a hat with a visor, and try to spend more time in shaded areas when you’re outdoors
While we may do all we can to prevent sun damage, it’s impossible to completely protect skin from sun and pollution in the environment. What we can do is find the right skin care products to minimize the effects of skin damage on the face. Skin care products rich in antioxidants can help reverse the visible signs of sun damage and photoaging.
Born in New Mexico, a state that sees an average of 293 days of sunshine a year – three months more than most states in the U.S.A – K&K Skin Products is a brand that understands how to address sun damage related skin problems. The brand’s patented BioVer-X™️ serum efficiently reduces fine lines and wrinkles caused by sun damage. Packed with ten times more anti-inflammatory and cell protective properties than resveratrol – one of the best known skin antioxidants, K&K Skin Product’s BioVer-X™ serum can help your skin repair itself from the effects of the sun.
Spending hundreds of days in the sun a year can have a big impact on your skin. Click here to learn about the sun and skin, and what you can do to prevent damage.