Summer is coming and we are ecstatic because when the sun is shining, our spirits just seem to get an instant lift! However, we don’t want your skin to get damaged by the summer sun, so we believe it is important to be informed about the dangers of sun exposure at all ages. Keeping reading below for everything you need to know about sun damage, what it does to your skin and what you can do to protect yourself.
Why is sun exposure so bad for the skin?
Sun exposure induces chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation is a destructive process that leads to abnormal cellular function and weakens skin’s immunity, specifically the immunity that helps skin repair itself (reduced Langerhans cells). Sun exposure will weaken skin’s ability to repair damaged DNA. With repeated sun exposure, more damaged DNA-mutated cells appear (pre-cancerous cells that will eventually cause skin cancer). Sun exposure will also disturb many cellular functions and normal skin texture, resulting in:
- Discoloration due to abnormally functioning melanocytes or their mutations (melanoma or lentigo maligna)
- Dryness and roughness due to increased transepidermal water loss and the appearance of hard keratin due to the abnormal functioning of keratinocytes
- Sensitivity and redness, as skin becomes photosensitive due to inflammation induced by sun and disruption of skin-barrier function, initiating a negative body response, creating abnormal blood vessels (telangiectasia) and redness
- Damaged skin collagen and elastin from repeated sun exposure, which will be apparent later in life as leathery skin texture and accelerated skin aging (earlier and deeper wrinkles and folds)
Sun Exposure Before Age 20
Before the age of 20, the skin is rich with vitality due to proper and active cellular function and repair. The earliest sun-damaging effect seen in this group is the appearance of freckles in light-skinned individuals. This freckling is an indicator of early photosensitivity and susceptibility to severe sun damage later in life (due to unstable and false melanin, known as pheomelanin) that can affect skin texture and lead to a high possibility of skin cancer.
Individuals who tan well may have less chance of skin cancer in the future as tanning represents the presence of strong natural resistance (due to stable, real melanin, also known as eumelanin). However, they will suffer from severe textural damage, resulting in skin with a leathery feel and solar elastosis. It should be clear that no one escapes sun damage if their skin is not protected at an early age. This is true even in individuals who tan well, as tanned skin is essentially skin that is screaming “help.”
Sun Exposure After Age 20
After the age of 20, sun damage is manifested by skin dullness, discoloration, and roughness. In your 30s and 40s, it is characterized by the appearance of actinic keratosis and lentigines. During your 50s, full-blown textural damage and precancerous lesions are evident, as is the appearance of skin cancer in some.
5 Factors That Increase Risk of Sun Damage
- Skin Type: Fair skin will have more damage than darker skin; thin skin will show earlier sun damage signs compared to thick skin.
- Skin Diseases: Skin diseases that cause inflammation (i.e. acne, rosacea) can increase susceptibility to sun damage.
- Autoimmune Diseases and Certain Genetic Disorders: Certain diseases and genetic disorders (i.e. lupus, xeroderma pigmentosum) can increase photosensitivity, accelerate the appearance of sun damage and result in skin cancer.
- Location: Sun-damaging effects are stronger near water, snow or at high altitudes.
- Medication: Some blood pressure medication, antidepressants, Isotretinoin and Tetracycline are among the many medications that can induce photosensitivity.
So What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?
In the ZO® sun protection principle, a combination of organic and/or inorganic sunscreens plus fractionated melanin offer protection that is both short-term (with the sunscreens) and longer-term (with the fractionated melanin). By increasing skin tolerance, stimulating skin renewal and using proper sunscreen, the skin will be better protected. The ZO® Triple Approach combines tolerance, renewal and protection for safe and healthier sun exposure. The table below displays what this approach consists of and how each step helps your skin.
|• Ossential® Daily Power Defense (AM/PM)||Strengthens skin’s barrier function to increase its tolerance to sun exposure and its ability to repair itself using a topical formula containing antioxidants, DNA-repair agents, and anti-irritants agent.|
|• Mild stimulation: Ossential® Growth Factor Serum Plus (PM)||Stimulates skin’s ability to renew itself during the night with a formulation that helps upregulate elastin, collagen and keratinocyte production in addition to increasing skin’s strength.|
|• Oclipse® Sunscreen + Primer SPF 30||Increases and lengthens sun protection with ZO® specially developed sunscreens containing both physical blockers and fractionated melanin. The added melanin creates an umbrella-like protection on the skin’s surface that helps protect it longer than using SPF alone.|
Final Notes on Avoiding Sun Damage
A few final pointers on how to avoid sun damage excluding the obvious that you should avoid sun exposure whenever possible are:
• Wear protective clothing
• Observe proper sun exposure guidelines
• Limit exposure to before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
• Avoid daily exposure (follow one day of exposure by a day of minimal or no exposure)
• Use sunscreen (organic and inorganic blockers)