Sun Exposure and Our Skin - What You Need to Know

May 08, 2023

Sun Exposure and Our Skin - What You Need to Know

The spring is always such a welcome time after the frosty months of a Canadian winter.  It seems that we’re all grateful for days where the sun shines and the temperatures head north of 20 degrees.  We rush out and do some basking in the warm sunlight, but, it’s always good to be reminded that extended sun exposure has a negative effect on our skin’s appearance and health.

Sun exposure is a common part of our daily lives, but its effects on our skin can be detrimental. While getting enough sunlight is important for our overall health and wellbeing, excessive exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause premature aging of the skin.

UV rays are the main culprit behind skin aging caused by sun exposure. The sun emits two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate the skin deeply and are responsible for long-term skin damage, such as wrinkles, age spots, and loss of elasticity. UVB rays, on the other hand, are responsible for sunburns and are the primary cause of skin cancer.

When our skin is exposed to UV rays, it triggers a series of reactions in our body that leads to the production of free radicals, unstable molecules that can cause damage to our skin cells. These free radicals damage the collagen and elastin fibers in our skin, which are responsible for keeping our skin firm and taut. Over time, this damage leads to the formation of wrinkles and fine lines.

Additionally, UV rays can also damage the DNA in our skin cells, leading to mutations that can increase the risk of skin cancer. When these mutations accumulate over time, they can cause permanent damage to our skin and increase the risk of skin cancer.

Sun exposure can also cause the formation of age spots, also known as sunspots or liver spots. These are dark, flat spots that appear on the skin, usually on areas that are regularly exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, and arms. Age spots are caused by an increase in melanin production in response to UV radiation, which can lead to an uneven skin tone and a less youthful appearance.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from the harmful effects of sun exposure. The most effective way to prevent sun damage to your skin is to limit your exposure to UV rays. This means avoiding prolonged sun exposure, especially during peak hours when the sun's rays are strongest (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). If you must be outside during these times, make sure to wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and long-sleeved shirt, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply it at least once every 2 hours.

It's also important to remember that sun damage can occur even on cloudy days, as up to 80% of the sun's UV rays can penetrate clouds. So, always wear sunscreen, even on overcast days. 

A high-quality mineral sunscreen is an excellent choice.  Many people like the efficacy of mineral sunscreens, but don’t like the way they white glow they give to the skin.  It’s nice to know that there are some excellent brands like Avène and La Roche-Posay that offer SPF 50 mineral sunscreens for the face with a nice skin-tone tint so that they don’t make your skin look white. If you’re not looking for the mineral sunscreen, IT has a very good line of foundation called Your Skin But Better CC+ and offers SPF50.

In addition to protecting your skin from the sun, there are also steps you can take to help reverse the effects of sun damage. For example, using skincare products that contain antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals and reduce the signs of aging caused by sun exposure. High quality marine collagen peptides, Vitamin C, vitamin E, and green tea extract are all powerful antioxidants that can help protect and repair your skin.

Retinoids are another type of skincare ingredient that can help reduce the signs of aging caused by sun exposure. Retinoids work by increasing collagen production and improving skin cell turnover, which can lead to smoother, more youthful-looking skin.

Marine collagen peptides also help your body increase collagen in your skin’s lower layer, the dermal layer, and this helps to improve the structure and health of that skin layer.  Collagen peptides will also help to increase collagen in other tissues like joint cartilage and bone tissue.  Improving collagen levels helps skin look better and also improves joint and bone health.

So remember that when you go out to enjoy the sun this spring and summer, protect your skin and keep it healthy and youthful.

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