Protect Your Skin from Sun Damage and Premature Aging with the Right Sunscreen
Summer’s here at long last, which means days spent at the beach soaking up the sun – but not too much sun, of course! As you much as you might crave an afternoon enjoying the rays, you’ve still got to limit your exposure and protect your skin. As such, sunscreen is a must to protect your skin from the damage caused by harmful UV rays.
Besides causing burns, prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause premature ageing in your skin.
What’s more, sun damage is the leading cause of prematurely ageing skin, causing wrinkles, age spots, broken capillaries, and skin cancer.
Take care to protect your skin from sun damage with the right sunscreen. If you’re frustrated with sun-damaged skin, though, don’t worry. There are a variety of solutions that can help restore and rejuvenate affected skin.
To start, though, let’s take a closer look at how sunscreen protects your skin.
How Sunscreen Works
Sunscreen prevents the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from reaching and damaging the skin. Some sunscreens reflect the light away from the skin, while others absorb the light before it can touch the upper layers of your skin.
For a long time, sunscreens only offered protection against ultraviolet B (UVB) light. This light causes sunburns and was the leading known cause of skin cancer.
But ultraviolet A (UVA) light has also been found to cause skin cancer, and penetrates the skin deeper, damaging skin proteins and causing wrinkles.
In fact, many skin changes associated with ageing are a result of prolonged exposure to UVA light.
The proteins collagen, elastin, and keratin are responsible for keeping skin healthy and smooth. Prolonged UV light exposure, especially to the delicate skin around your eyes, damages skin proteins and leads to fine lines and wrinkles. Sunscreen protects these proteins from sun damage that can lead to a loss of elasticity.
Sunlight can also cause the blood vessels in your face to dilate and remain dilated until they break. These broken capillaries are also known as spider veins, and often appear on the nose, cheeks, and chin.
Sunspots, meanwhile, are brown spots that appear on the skin following too much exposure to sunlight.
Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen will help protect your skin from the damaging UVA and UVB rays that can cause cancerous cells to grow in the skin.
What Is the Best Sunscreen to Protect My Skin?
Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen helps protect your skin from both UVA and UVB light, but “broad spectrum” is a definition with a pretty broad spectrum of meanings of its own. When shopping for a sunscreen, keep an eye on the sun protection factor and watch for a few key ingredients.
A sunscreen’s sun protection factor (SPF) indicates how effective the sunscreen is at protecting your skin from sunburns caused by UVB light.
- SPF 15 sunscreen allows 1/15 of the sun’s UVB light to reach the skin, protecting against 93% of UVB light.
- SPF 30 allows 1/30 of UVB light in, protecting against about 97% of UVB light.
- SPF 50 lets about 1/50 of the sun’s UVB rays reach the skin, protecting against 98% of the sun’s burning rays.
While most people will be fine applying SPF 15 frequently, SPF 30 to SPF 50 sunscreens are ideal for optimal skin protection. If you plan to be out in the sun for a long period of time, you should opt for a higher SPF.
If you have any of the following, you should use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher:
- Fair skin that burns easily
- A family history of skin cancer
- An increased sensitivity to light from medication and conditions such as lupus
A broad-spectrum sunscreen that effectively protects your skin against UVA light will include one of the following ingredients:
- Titanium dioxide
- Zinc oxide
Water & Sweat Resistance
Water and sweat-resistant sunscreen protect your skin for a specified time while swimming or sweating. Most of these sunscreens maintain effective SPF at least 40 minutes while in the water, but some offer up to 80 minutes of protection in the water.
Regardless of the product’s SPF, remember to towel off and reapply when you’re out of the water.
What Are Superscreens?
Along with protecting skin from damaging UVA and UVB light, superscreens also protect skin from the sun’s infrared light.
Infrared light is heat energy, so you can feel it as the sun heats up your skin. Infrared light penetrates deeper into the skin, causing more damage and affecting the skin’s ability to rejuvenate.
Superscreens also help damaged skin repair itself, improving the appearance and overall health of skin. This provides skin with the ultimate protection from the sun while also repairing existing damage.
Treating Sun Damage with IPL And Laser Skin Resurfacing
While superscreens can repair and protect your skin from sun damage, there are also skin treatments available to treat sun-damaged skin.
Intense-pulsed-light (IPL) therapy (photorejuvenation treatment) treats sun spots, broken capillaries, fine lines, and dull skin caused by sun damage. The light penetrates the deep layers of skin, targeting browns and reds, and stimulating collagen growth for healthy skin rejuvenation.
Fraxel laser skin resurfacing also treats sun-damaged skin, such as sun spots, wrinkles around the eyes, and precancerous skin cells by eliminating damaged cells and stimulating new collagen growth for healthier skin.
Year-Round Protection: Sunscreen Is Not Just for The Summer
Even if it’s cold out, the sun’s harmful rays are still beaming down on us. So protecting your skin from the sun is not just for the summer.
To protect your skin from sun damage, you must wear sunscreen whenever you go outside during the day, even when it’s not sunny.
Up to 80% of UV rays still make it through clouds on overcast days. And in the winter, the sunlight can still reach you, especially when it reflects off the snow.
What You Can Do If You Have Sun-Damaged Skin
To protect your skin from further sun damage, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen or superscreen to your skin before going outside. Also, wear a broad-brimmed hat and avoid exposure to direct sunlight whenever possible by seeking shade.
The sun’s here to stay, at least for the next few months, which means it’s time to start thinking about protecting your skin. Thankfully, it’s not hard to protect your skin. You can even treat frustrating skin issues caused by effectively with help from the skin care experts here at Tosoni MD. Remember, keep in the shade when you can, apply sunscreen, and enjoy a safe summer.
Dr. Caroline Tosoni pursued her Medical Degree at McMaster University and completed her post-graduate medical residency in Family Medicine through the University of Ottawa in 1998. Fluently bilingual in French and English, she opened her medical practice in Ottawa in July of 1998. Since 2000, Dr. Tosoni has focused her medical practice on Cosmetic Dermatology and has received extensive training and obtained multiple certifications in various medical cosmetic enhancement procedures such as Phlebology, Botox® Cosmetic, Dermal Fillers, SoftLift,™ BeautiPhication,™ Belkyra injections, CoolSculpting,™ Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Laser Medicine. Dr. Caroline Tosoni is also proficient in the treatment of Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and Migraine Headaches with Botox® Therapeutic. In 2015, Dr. Tosoni’s practice officially received a Focused Practice in Dermatology designation by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and the Ontario Medical Association.