I grew up in Florida and spent many days in the sunshine. We all did. I didn’t think about sun damaged skin or future freckles on my shoulders or wrinkles around my eyes. None of us did.

In high school and college, I wanted a tan because I thought it made me look fit and healthy. I didn’t realize that the tan was actually my skin protecting itself from the damaging effects of the sun by increasing skin pigmentation called melanin. And I didn’t know or really much care how skin actually worked, but the sun DID things to my skin, whether I paid attention or not.

 

Skin Science

Skin is built in three layers: the epidermis (outermost), the dermis (middle), and the hypodermis (bottom). The dermis contains collagen, elastin, and other fibers that support the skin’s structure. It is these elements that give skin its smooth and youthful appearance – and that are damaged by UV radiation.

Skin cells are always in a cycle of being created and destroyed. In addition to sun exposure, harsh weather, pollution, and even dust particles can damage the skin. The damaged cells have to be replaced, which reduces collagen levels even more.

 

signs sun damaged skin

 

Sun Damaged Skin

It takes about 20-30 years for skin to really start showing signs of sun damage. So all the beach day memories begin to return as age spots around 35-45 years old. Now at 42, I’m seeing uneven pigmentation on the backs of my hands and my face. And even though I’m great at applying sunscreen now, crows feet are showing up around my eyes. These further changes will likely accelerate between the ages of 60 and 70.

Research shows that UV exposure is the reason behind 80% of skin’s aging. As we age, the skin changes too. Skin loses its elasticity, gets thinner and we lose collagen. Of course these changes depend on many environmental and lifestyle factors — and sun exposure is the biggest.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun (and tanning booths) causes oxidative stress, which is the imbalance between the production of free radicals and the antioxidants that counter their harmful effects, along with cellular senescence, a key contributor to aging in which cells stop dividing. Damage is cumulative, meaning it builds with repeated exposure over a lifetime, and the overall process is called photo-aging.

Skin damaged skin shows up as

  • Sunburns
  • Rough patches of skin
  • Raised bumps
  • Age Spots (also know as Liver Spots)
  • Brown Spots or Hyper-pigmentation
  • Rosacea
  • Wrinkles
  • Sagging Skin

 

Sun Damaged Skin Repair

Although we can’t undo all the damage of our youth, we can reduce future damage, including the aging appearance of hyper-pigmented spots and wrinkles, by using repair serums that contain antioxidants, vitamins and natural ingredients.

It’s important to think about our skin 20-30 years from now and continue to wear safe sunscreen, eat an antioxidant-rich diet, wear high quality sunglasses and wear UV sun-shielding shirts. And visiting a dermatologist at least yearly to keep on top any serious skin changes is vital in keeping skin healthy as we continue to age.