We’ve all become experts at identifying a sunburn, but some of our other skin concerns can also be lumped into the sun damage category. A lifetime of sun exposure will surely take a toll on the skin, so recognizing and treating the early signs can save you time and energy later! We’re breaking down the immediate signs of sun damage, including your best defense against them and the best bets for treating them!
First things first — SPF
The easiest way to protect the skin from all of these short-term signs of sun damage? Sunscreen! You should be applying sunscreen every morning, regardless of if you’re planning on spending time in the sun or not. UV rays can still hurt your skin through clothes, windows and screens. If you are being exposed to direct sunlight, you should be reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours! Incorporating sunscreen into your morning routine can be as simple as using a moisturizer with SPF. SLMD’s Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 is oil-free, lightweight, and contains antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Green Tea Extract to protect the skin from environmental toxins. Another good option is using a mineral powdered sunscreen like SLMD’s UV Bounce, which comes in 3 shades and can be used as a setting powder over makeup. SPF is your best protection against all immediate and long-term consequences of sun exposure.
A sunburn is the skin’s response to extreme UV exposure. As a system of defense, the skin becomes red and inflamed due to dilating blood vessels. After losing moisture, the skin will become tight and dry. Skin cells will then start to thicken and produce melanin (the pigment that gives our skin color) to stop the UV rays from reaching deeper layers of the skin. In addition to causing premature aging and hyperpigmentation, exposing yourself to dangerous levels of UV rays could risk damage to the DNA of cells, which could lead to skin cancer.
The most common signs of a sunburn are inflammation, redness, and discomfort. Skin can also start to peel in an attempt to shed damaged skin cells.
While SPF and staying indoors are the only sure-fire ways to prevent sunburns, we’re all guilty of the occasional mishap. If you find yourself with a sunburn, you should try to reduce the inflammation as best as you can. To hydrate your skin from the inside out, drink plenty of water. Avoid occlusive, greasy creams, which can prevent the skin from cooling. Opt for soothing ingredients like Aloe, Hyaluronic Acid, and Squalane. For a hefty dose of both Hyaluronic Acid and Squalane, try applying a few drops of Hyaluronic Acid Serum to burned, dry, or sun-damaged areas to provide a gentle and soothing solution for sensitive or damaged skin.
Commonly referred to as age spots or sunspots, liver spots form due to increased melanin-production in response to sun exposure. Similarly to sunburns, your skin speeds up the production of melanin to protect from UV exposure. When higher concentrations of melanin clump together, they produce dark spots.
Liver spots look like small, flat areas of darker skin and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms.
There is a large variety of skin-lightening products to reduce the appearance of liver spots. In addition to using laser treatments and chemical peels, many lightening creams contain Hydroquinone and retinoids to lighten dark spots. SLMD’s Dark Spot Fix blends three powerhouse ingredients — Hydroquinone, Kojic Acid and Salicylic Acid — to prevent and improve the appearance of dark spots due to acne, melasma, and sun exposure. Retinol is the active ingredient in SLMD’s Retinol Serum, which encourages cell turnover to lighten liver spots and reduce hyperpigmentation.
PIH (Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation)
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs in response to damage or irritation to the skin from many types of skin conditions, including: acne, scrapes, cuts and infection. UV exposure can induce hyperpigmentation on skin damaged for any of these reasons. Affected skin will turn tan, brown or purple, and naturally darker skin is more susceptible to PIH.
PIH responds to topical regimens, especially those containing Hydroquinone, Retinol, Glycolic Acid, and Kojic Acid. Because PIH is caused by increased melanin-production, its treatment is very similar to that of liver spots. SLMD’s Dark Spot Fix and Retinol Serum can also reduce the appearance of PIH by curbing the production of melanin.
Sun damage can take many forms, and all pose both aesthetic and medical risks. The most important thing you can do every day to prevent skin injury is wearing sunscreen! SLMD’s SPF products are formulated for acne-prone/sensitive skin by Dr. Sandra Lee, a board-certified dermatologist, and will provide your skin with the protection it needs!