Eighty percent of visible aging is caused by the sun.
Going out to enjoy a bright day and a blue sky is not the only time to protect yourself from the sun’s rays, but it is one of the most critical times to do so.
After all, how often do you usually leave? probably once a day.
But, did you know that up to 80 percent of visible aging is due to exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays?
Not for aging itself. Not because of stress, lack of sleep or too many glasses of wine in more days than we would like to admit.
Those fine lines and age spots? It is likely that they are damaged by the sun.
Three rules to follow:
- The sun can worsen acne hyperpigmentation. Protect your skin to avoid the darker marks left by acne spots.
- Of the solar UV radiation that reaches the earth, up to 95% is UVA, and approximately 5% is UVB. You need broad spectrum sun protection, every day of the year, to protect yourself from both.
- Some ingredients used to attenuate dark spots can make your skin even more sensitive to sun damage. Be more vigilant with sunscreen while using them.
This does not mean that you cannot enjoy outdoor time, whether on warm summer days on the beach or on cool winter days.
The key is to build a habit and commit to a routine. We immerse ourselves in the science behind each rule below.
1. Use sunscreen to protect yourself without avoiding the outdoors
Up to 95 percent of the rays that makes it to the Earth’s surface – and probably your skin – are UVA. These rays are not discouraged by cloudy skies or glass.
So, avoiding the outdoors is not really the answer – covering up, especially with sunscreen, is.
Here is the truth about sun protection: statistically, you are not using enough to prevent the signs of aging.
In fact, if you are worried about the discoloration points, you must be very careful! Many acne and scar-fading treatments, if prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), can make your skin even more sensitive to the sun.
Sun Protection Factor ratings are based on an application of 2 milligrams per square centimeter of skin.
That works out to an average of 1/4 tsp for your face alone. That’s drastically more than people think they need.
If you’re not using 1/4 tsp on your face, consider measuring it out to see how much you really need to use.
2. Use these ingredients to reverse sun damage
Prevention is easier than reversal when it comes to sun damage, but there are options to treat the visible signs of aging from sun damage, known as photo-aging.
The problem is you have to commit to using a serious sunscreen before using them. Otherwise, you will be doing more harm than good.
Before trying antiaging treatments for fine lines, rough texture and hyperpigmentation, ask yourself:
- Are you covering exposed skin with hats, sunglasses, and the right clothes?
- Are you avoiding peak sun hours?
- Are you regularly using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF every day?
If your answers are affirmative to all of these, then you are ready to walk the thin line of reversing the sun damage.
Here are the star ingredients that Curology uses in its customized treatment formulas:
This is a potent agent that works to minimize dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Studies have shown that niacinamide can:
- improve the epidermal barrier function
- act as an antioxidant
- Decrease hyperpigmentation of the skin.
- improve the elasticity of the skin
- decrease the yellowing of the skin
- reduce fine lines and wrinkles
- decrease redness and spots
It works by preventing the pigment from surfacing in the outer layer of the skin and can also decrease pigment production,” says Lortscher.
Niacinamide is also available in many serums and moisturizers, making it an easy addition to your routine.
2. Azelaic acid
This can help reduce the marks left by acne. “An FDA-approved prescription ingredient works by lightening dark spots left by acne inflammation or sun exposure by decreasing melanin production and by blocking abnormal melanocytes.
Azelaic acid is a fairly stellar ingredient for the fight against acne and anti-aging, but it is not as well-known as its counterparts such as hydroxy acids and retinoids.
It has antioxidant properties, is less irritating than tretinoin and its anti-inflammatory play is so strong that it is used as a treatment for rosacea.
3. Retinal and topical retinoids.
Vitamin A derivatives work to attenuate hyperpigmentation by increasing the turnover of epidermal cells, in addition to other mechanisms.
They may be available without a prescription or with a prescription.
Decades of research confirm that tretinoin is the gold standard in topical treatment to combat acne and clogged pores, in addition to reducing fine lines, unwanted pigmentation and improving skin texture.
Although retinol has become a buzzword in antiaging products, keep in mind the number of products you’re seeing.
Experts believe that over-the-counter retinol is much less effective than tretinoin. Although the strengths may vary, “it has been observed that retinol is approximately 20 times less potent than tretinoin.”
4. Vitamin C
This is a super ingredient that has anti-aging benefits and repairs existing skin damage.
Vitamin C blocks the damage even before it occurs by neutralizing free radicals. It also helps rebuild the structure of your skin by stimulating the production of collagen, a protein that forms the connective tissue and gives your skin its structure.
Vitamin C can be a great addition to your routine, either in the morning before sunscreen or at night. It is also a great companion for a broad-spectrum daily sunscreen.
While it cannot replace sunscreen, it is a smart way to increase your protection efforts.
5. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA)
Alpha hydroxy acids can help reduce hyperpigmentation. It is recommended to use them at night, with a sunscreen used in the morning.
Start only once a week, gradually increasing the frequency as tolerated. The most widely used AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid.
Whether you are looking to reserve signs of photo-aging or recovering from acne pigmentation, the first step is sun protection.
3. Check the ingredients of your skin care.
If you’re still fighting new dark spots, you’ll also want to carefully monitor your skincare routine. This discoloration can last for weeks or even months.
It is called postinflammatory hyperpigmentation and is caused by a skin lesion, such as a cut, burns or psoriasis, but acne is the most common source.
While the sun can also cause hyperpigmentation on its own, additional sun exposure can further darken the spots.
Always check the label of the new products to see if there are ingredients that may cause photosensitivity.
When you should and should not use your products
We have you covered. First, no matter what you wear, protect your skin with broad-spectrum daily sunscreen.
1. Should you avoid photosensitization of the ingredients when it is sunny?
Although applying them at night is a good practice (since certain ingredients can “degrade after exposure to artificial light or sunlight”), the application of their products at night will not cancel out their photosensitivity properties in the morning.
2. What ingredients do you put (and do not put) at higher risk?
Vitamin A derivatives (retinol, tretinoin, isotretinoin) and AHAs (glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid) increase sun sensitivity.
Stick to the application at night and always follow up with a daily sunscreen.
Vitamin C, azelaic acid and beta hydroxy acids (salicylic acid) do not increase your sensitivity to the sun.
They can be applied during the day, but keep in mind that they can help get rid of the dead and opaque top layers of your skin, revealing a softer and more fragile skin underneath.
Why is it so important to block the sun’s rays?
We have prepared you on how to protect yourself, but half the battle of being attentive to your routine is to understand why.
Sun damage is not just about the visible marks, spots, and signs of aging. Sun ray plays a key role in the development of skin cancer.
Damage to the skin caused by UVA rays are:
- loss of skin elasticity
- broken capillaries
- Dry, rough, leathery skin.
- Skin thinner and translucent.
- liver spots or age
- skin cancers
In addition, there is damage at the molecular level: you have probably heard about free radicals but many people do not know that UVA radiation creates these harmful free radicals.
That means that tanned skin is the opposite of healthy skin, it is the injured skin. It is a sign that your body is trying to protect itself against further DNA damage.
Prolonged exposure to UVA damages the collagen fibers in the skin. Not only do long days on the beach cause visible aging.
Exposure to UVA rays happens every time you walk to the car, work outside on cloudy days, or even sit by a window.