Did you know that the number one cause of aging skin is sun damage? Those fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin color, brown spots and broken blood vessels are all due to exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Unfortunately, precancerous areas called actinic keratoses appear on sun-damaged skin, and eventually lead to skin cancers. Thankfully, most cases of skin cancer are preventable, and nature offers options for improving the appearance of sun-damaged skin.
Avoiding sun damage is easier than fixing the damage later. Try to stay out of the sun when ultraviolet rays are strongest. In most parts of the United States, that’s between 11 am through 4 pm, from April to September.
If you must go outside, minimize your summer UV exposure by:
• Seeking shade whenever possible. Consider bringing your own shade, such as an umbrella.
• Wearing a pair of oversized, wraparound, UV-rated sunglasses.
• Covering up with pants, long sleeves and a hat.
Apply Sun Screen
This is your best defense against aging and skin cancer! Read this blog to check out what sunscreens are best for you.
Get in the habit of applying your sunscreen before you apply any other topical products. After you cleanse, apply your sunscreen and let it absorb for 5 minutes before applying anything else.
Food is no sunscreen substitute, but what you eat may help to protect your skin and help it keep it glowing.
Lycopene: Research has indicated that a diet high in lycopene decreases the skin’s sensitivity to UV light, thereby decreasing the risk of sunburn.
Omega-3 fatty acids: This healthy fat may protect against UV damage and prevent non-melanoma skin cancer. It can also help with skin dryness.
Vitamin C: Research shows that people who eat foods rich in this antioxidant have fewer wrinkles than those who don’t eat such foods. Vitamin C is involved in protecting tissue from oxidative stress, like the free radicals caused by sun exposure, and also plays an important role in collagen synthesis.
Water: Make sure you are staying hydrated and drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water per day. Water helps hydrate from the inside out. This alone can do wonders for your skin!
Additional helpful foods include green tea, resveratrol (found in red wine) and quercetin (an antioxidant in apples).
Cleanse, Exfoliate and Moisturize
These three things can help prevent and reduce the look of sun-related damage.
Cleanse: Choose a cleanser that is gentle and effective and make sure you are cleansing in the morning and most importantly before you go to sleep. Cleansing removes make-up and dirt that has been accumulating on your skin all day.
Exfoliate: Exfoliating every other day helps skin shed damaged surface cells to brighten away hyperpigmentation. Look for gentle exfoliants made with sugar or grains such as oatmeal. Even using a wash cloth acts as exfoliation in case you have very sensitive skin.
Moisturize: Moisturizer plumps the skin’s surface, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines… temporarily. They also help nourish and hydrate. Look for one that is specific to your skin type.
Photo from here, with thanks.