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The Perfect Routine to Prevent (and Undo) Sun Damage

Deanna deBara
Writer and expert3 years ago
View Deanna deBara's profile

Now that summer is around the corner, many of us are thinking, “I can’t wait to get outside and soak up some sun!” Meanwhile, your skin is thinking, “Oh no...not this again.” The sun may feel great on your face, but sun exposure can wreak havoc on your skin—and lead to lasting damage. Luckily, you can help prevent (and even undo) many of the signs of sun damage with the right skin care routine.

What Does Sun Damage Look Like?

“Sun damage is what happens when the skin is overexposed to the sun’s UV rays,” says Dr. Michele Green, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist based in New York. “The UV rays can penetrate the skin even in the deepest layers and cause changes to DNA at the cellular level.”

In addition to increasing your risk for skin cancer (which is reason enough to protect yourself!), too much sun exposure can cause your skin to age prematurely.

“[Sun] damage can present as wrinkling; pigmentation changes, such as sun spots (solar lentigines), freckles, redness and blotchiness; loss of tone (decreased elasticity) and thinning of the skin; rough, uneven skin texture and broken capillaries,” says Dr. Young McMahan, a board-certified dermatologist with U.S. Dermatology Partners in Waco, Texas.

And even if your skin doesn’t show the signs yet, it doesn’t mean the sun isn’t doing damage. “It can take years for sun damage to become visible because of the depth at which the UV rays damage skin cells,” says Dr. Green.

How to Do (Sun) Damage Control

It’s never too late to start using sunscreen every day: Only about 47 percent of your lifetime sun exposure occurs by age 40, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. And ingredients like vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids and retinol can help minimize dark spots and wrinkles caused by sun damage. Starting good habits today can make a real difference—here’s a routine to help you begin.

    Deanna deBara
    Writer and expert
    View Deanna deBara's profile
    Deanna deBara is a freelance writer based in Portland, OR. She focuses mostly on health and wellness content—and with a background in education for the beauty industry, skincare is one of her favorite topics to cover. When she's not busy writing, you're likely to find her hiking in the PNW with her husband and dog, attempting to recreate the masterpieces she sees on The Great British Bake-off, or reading about one of her niche, geek-inspired interests (like retro gaming).
    You can follow her on Twitter at @Deanna_deBara.