I know it feels good to be out in the sun, feeling the warmth on your skin after a long winter! But when you're in the sun too long, by the time your skin turns pink and painful, most of the sun damage and harm is already done. Sunburns indicate that there is damage to the DNA in your skin cells. Over time, these injuries add up and lead to physical changes like wrinkles, sagging skin, hyper-pigmentation and skin cancer.
What do I mean when I say you need to be conscious of your sun exposure? Wear and re-apply your sunscreen and sun protection, or you will damage your skin and become prone to skin cancers!!
Sunlight can take its toll on just about any proteins, fabric garments and even our own skin, over time. Picture leaving your favorite leather jacket outside in the sun everyday where it is exposed to the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays, day after day. Inevitably, it would cause considerable physical damage to its appearance. This isn’t something that happens immediately, but constant exposure can, and will, damage your leather, making it look old, dry, lacking flexibility, pigmentation loss, and irregularity. This too is the same for your skin.
What exactly happens to your skin over time with overexposure to the sun?
We have 30+ ladies always coming into my spa grumbling about sun spot that have accumulated over the years; but still tell me just how much they love their tans. Let me tell you what is going on;
Skin colour changes caused by sun exposure are very common. The most noticeable sun-induced pigment change are brown spots (solar lentigos). Light-skinned people are particularly prone to freckles caused by overexposure to UV light. Solar lentigines are benign, but they do indicate excessive sun exposure, a risk factor for the development of skin cancer. Large freckles, also known as age spots or liver spots, can be seen on the backs of the hands, chest, shoulders, arms, and upper back. These areas are particularly prone to skin cancer. These pigmentation anomalies in the long-term accumulate and are much harder to reduce, making the skin appear much older.
UV exposure can also cause small white spots on the legs, backs of the hands, and arms which is called guttate hypo-melanosis. But what about Hypo-pigmentation? On a basic level, Hypo-pigmentation is described as a loss of skin colour. While Hyper-pigmentation is caused by an increase in melanin (the substance that gives our skin and hair its colour), Hypo-pigmentation is the result of a reduction in melanin production. Most of us have experienced Hypo-pigmentation as a result of trauma (a cut or burn), or sun damage. A blister or a burn that was bad enough to affect the area with a loss of pigment and cause white spots on the skin, is an example of Hypo-pigmentation. It’s important to ensure that such areas of Hypo-pigmentation are well protected from the sun; lack of melanin makes the skin far more vulnerable to sun damage. With luck and treatments these white spots may be temporary, eventually the skin can heal and return to its usual colour once the body regenerates pigment, but some can be irreversible depending on the extent of the damage.
More than 6 million Americans get these splotchy brown or grey patches on their skin. Although experts aren’t certain of the exact reason for it, they know that sun exposure can cause and re-stimulate melanin (pigment producing cells). These cells go into overdrive and create a large dark mask or spot on the skin. This condition is very deep into the epidermis, and very difficult to treat.
The neck and décolleté are particularly prone to a constant redness and broken capillaries which is called poikiloderma of Civatte, and can be very noticeable. This redness is year round and difficult to treat.
Loss of Elastin and Collagen, overall thickening or thinning of the skin.
The skin will start to lose it’s elasticity and begin to sag, which is continued over time with more sun exposure. Also depending on genetics, the skin will start to look thick, like old, worn out, textured leather, or on the other hand, see-through and fragile like paper mache. Both of which are very aging to the overall look of the skin, and hard to reverse depending on how much damage is caused.
Unfortunately, the worst part of my job is finding abnormal skin cells and moles, and having to send my clients, that I care for so much, to the doctor to get a biopsy or lesion removal. This is a very stressful time in their lives where they tend to reflect and reevaluate their past decisions, and I simply don’t want this to be you. Please note that when Doctors do remove skin cancerous lesions, it is never as small as the mole itself. A large part of the surrounding tissue always needs to be removed at the same time to ensure there are no cancerous cells left behind. These areas are more commonly found in noticeable places such as the back, chest, nose and face. Sometimes having to remove parts of these features to be safe it was all removed. So when I tell my clients, and the public that I don’t want you to have sunspots and wrinkles, I am also stating that I don’t want it to get this bad. Play safe.
Prevention and after treatment
- To prevent permanent sun damage, avoid over exposure to sunlight in midday between 10 AM and 3 PM.
- Wear sun-protective clothing, tightly woven clothes and hats
- Apply a natural physical sunscreen (chemical-free), with an SPF 30 or above
- Re-apply your SPF every 2-3 hours if you are in the sun continuously
Shower and remove all SPF before bed, and apply after sun products such as Eminence’s Aloe Mint Hydrating Gel for calming and soothing or the Rosehip and Lemongrass Repair Balm which is high in Vitamin C.
If you do acquire too much sun, then be aware that the damage will continue and spread, damaging skin cells for 12-24 hours. So the sooner you start cooling the skin, the better protected it will be. Cold compress, cool shower, aloe, such as the Eminence aloe lotion and/or Rosehip & Lemongrass Body Balm will start cooling and healing the skin.
- Inspect your skin regularly and after over exposures
- No tanning beds, ever!
- Seek medical care if you have a mole you believe has changed, grown larger, bleeds or has crusty dead skin around it, strange pigmentation on or around them.
At Home and in-house Treatments
Some key ingredients that will nourish your sun damaged skin are; Vitamin C, Licorice, Peptides, Retinol, facial peels, and always Sunscreen. We carry these products in our boutique which include, DERMed Vital A Serum (Retinol), the Vital C Serum (Vitamin C), Licorice Serum, Eminence Marine Flower Peptide Serum and Arctic Berry Peptide Radiance Cream (Peptides), and the Tropical Vanilla SPF 32 Cream (For face or body).
Book a Comprehensive Skin Care analysis today and we’ll create a customized treatment plan suited to your specific skincare needs. Allow us to start you on the right track to total skin rejuvenation!