Ageing & The Sun
Aging and Wrinkles
Crow’s feet, laugh lines, creases, fine lines.
Whatever you call them, we all know them as wrinkles.
These lovely lines are a natural part of the aging process.
As we get older, our skin loses structure (AKA collagen) and its ability to bounce back (elastin), causing lines to form and skin to sag.
Aside from good ol’ natural aging, there are some other elements that can cause wrinkles to form.
Since we can’t stop the hands of time, let’s take a look at some of the other fine line factors and what you can do to keep skin smooth and youthful!
Causes of Wrinkles
The free radicals from UVA radiation break down skin’s collagen and elastin and cause hyperpigmentation in the form of freckles and dark spots.
The solution: Practice sun protection!!
- Wear daily SPF – Get in the habit of applying an SPF of at least 30 any time you’re headed outside. Apply to any exposed skin at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. Make things easier by using a daily moisturizer that includes SPF protection!
- Wear SPF even on cloudy days – Those UVA rays I mentioned? Those are the ones that can still filter through clouds and windows on even the coldest, greyest days to cause aging. Rock your SPF year round in all kinds of weather.
- Don’t forget to reapply – If you’re swimming or sweating, apply more sunscreen after 2 hours to ensure full coverage.
- SPF isn’t just for tanning – I know I sound like a broken record, but many people think they only need SPF if they’re at the beach. But sun damage is cumulative, which means ANY time you’re in the sun – driving, walking through a parking lot, sitting by a sunny window – that exposure adds up to cause damage.
- Rock a hat and sunnies – If you’re going to be out in the sun for a while, bring a wide-brimmed hat or cute umbrella to shade your face. Sunglasses will protect your eyes and keep you from squinting and fend off crow’s feet!
- Know when to seek shade – Take occasional sun breaks to kick it in the shade. Or, try to avoid being outside during hours of the day when UV exposure is the highest, between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
When you inhale smoke, you reduce blood flow to your skin which means you’re inhibiting the ability for oxygen and nutrients to reach your skin.
The solution: Stop smoking already!!
I don’t need to tell you how harmful smoking is for your health.
You owe it to yourself to be healthy (and have great skin!).
Every time we smile, squint, furrow brows, or express emotions, we use facial muscles that create little grooves or creases in our skin.
When we’re young, our skin has more elasticity to bounce back.
But, as we get older, it doesn’t spring back as easily and these repeated facial movements cause what are called dynamic wrinkles.
The solution: Good skincare
Unless you want to go through life as an expressionless robot, never moving your face, you’re going to get some lines.
There are anti-aging treatments, such as injections and fillers, but the best thing you can do for aging skin is practicing a good, daily skincare routine right at home.
Look for products that contain age-fighting ingredients to firm skin and diminish wrinkles, and apply these formulas regularly to see the best results!
When our skin lacks moisture, it’s less supple which shines a spotlight on lines, sagging, and dullness.
Dry skin can be the result of dehydration, using the wrong products for your skin type, weather, or just luck.
The solution: Moisturize. Moisturize. Moisturize.
Pretty much everyone can benefit from maintaining good moisture.
Here are some tips to keep skin healthy and hydrated:
- Always apply moisturizer to your face and body after a shower or bath. Hot water can zap skin’s moisture. Apply while skin is still damp to really lock in hydration.
- If you have dry skin, consider incorporating a hydrating serum containing hyaluronic acid into your skincare routine. This humectant binds moisture to skin for long-lasting hydration.
- Make sure you’re using the right products for your skin type! If products are too harsh, they can strip skin’s natural oils and dry it out.
- Stay hydrated! When we’re dehydrated, it can definitely show up in our skin. Use an online hydration calculator, or download a hydration app on your phone to track your progress and send you reminders to help you reach your hydration goals!
Bottom Line: Whether your skin is completely smooth, or shows every line from every time you’ve laughed until you cried, make sure you’re practicing good skincare through using the right products and exercising sun protection!
Sunlight & Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation
When it comes to sun exposure, you may have heard about UV rays, UV radiation, the UV index, or broad spectrum UV protection.
But what does all this UV business mean, and why should you care?
UV, or ultraviolet, radiation refers to sun’s light rays that aren’t visible to the naked eye.
The reason you should care is that exposure to this radiation is what causes skin aging and skin cancers.
Types of UV Rays
There are 3 types of ultraviolet rays, but only two that concern you when it comes to skin damage.
- UVA –These rays penetrate into the skin’s deeper layers, or subcutaneous tissue, causing damage. They break down collagen and elastin, the loss of which results in wrinkles and sagging. A good trick for remembering this is to pretend the “A” in UVA stands for “aging.”
- UVB – These rays cause damage to the outer layer of the skin that results in sunburns and, potentially, skin cancer. Pretend the “B” in UVB stands for “burn.”
- UVC–These rays do not penetrate our atmosphere to reach the earth’s surface, so they’re not a concern when it comes to skin damage.
How UV Radiation Affects Skin
When we’re exposed to the sun’s radiation, it changes our skin on a cellular level.
- Causes DNA damage
- Compromises skin’s protective barrier
- Breaks down collagen and elastin
- Affects the texture of our skin by causing tissue to thicken
- Creates an overproduction of melanin leading to hyperpigmentation and dark spots
- Cellular damage which can result in skin cancer
When your skin is exposed to UV light, it produces melanin, a dark pigment, as a defense mechanism to protect your cells.
So when you have a “dark tan,” what you’re actually seeing is cell damage.
And, this overproduction of melanin is also what leads to freckles, dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and melasma.
Signs of Photo-Aging
Many people mistake the results of sun damage as just normal signs of aging, but with proper sun protection, many of these can be avoided.
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Leathery, thick skin
- Dull complexion
- Dark spots/hyperpigmentation
- Sunspots (usually occurring on the chest, back, shoulders, arms, and backs of hands, also known as “age spots” or “liver spots”)
- Redness/rough skin (actinic keratoses)
- Skin growths
Remember, don’t wait until you feel hot or your skin is red to put on sunscreen, cover up, or get into the shade.
Follow the rule of “short shadow, seek shade.”
Meaning, if your shadow is shorter than you are tall, the sun is high in the sky, UV exposure is higher, and you should stay in the shade.
Once you and your shadow are the same height/length, it’s a better time to venture out.
Spot checks are also crucial!
Get regular, yearly skin screenings from your doctor or dermatologist.
You can even find a free screening near you.
It could save your life!
If you notice a weird or suspect spot on your body, don’t wait to get it checked out.
Bottom Line: Keeping your skin healthy is up to you, but it’s possible with good skincare and being vigilant about sun protection. It’s worth it so your skin will be healthy and beautiful for years to come!
Babies and Sunscreen
It’s not recommended that you apply sunscreen to children under 6 months old.
Babies have different, far more sensitive skin than adults.
Instead, keep little ones physically protected from the sun with shades, covers, clothing and sun hats.
Types of Skin Cancer
If you’ve spent any time here with me, you know what I fan I am of protecting your skin when it comes to sun exposure.
Wearing your daily SPF and shading skin from the sun not only helps you maintain that fabulous youthful complexion, it also helps you avoid the risk of potentially harmful skin cancer!
The World Health Organization has classified UV radiation as “known to be carcinogenic to humans.”
AKA, UV radiation is known to cause skin cancer.
Today, we’re going to look at some of the risks and types of skin cancer caused by UV exposure.
My hope is that you’ll be informed and encouraged to protect that beautiful skin of yours!
According to skincancer.org, most skin cancers are non-melanoma and break down as follows:
Melanomas aren’t as common, but they’re more dangerous.
It’s estimated that one person dies every hour from melanoma!
Let’s take a look at some of the types of skin cancer caused by sun exposure.
Actinic Keratosis (AK)
- Dry, flaky patches that can appear on the scalp, ears, back of hands, or forearms.
- While there’s a small chance that AK could become cancerous, it’s not worth the risk, so it’s usually recommended to get it treated.
- Treatment includes the use of topical creams, and freezing, burning off, or removing the affected skin with in-office treatments, all of which can leave scarring.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
- This is the most common type of skin cancer affecting those of us in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.
- They typically look like a small, raised nodule, sometimes with a crater in the middle. They can be either red or skin-toned, may look like a scab or crusty wound that doesn’t heal, and might have raised, rolled edges.
- Usually grow slowly, but can become very large.
- Treatment options include in-office procedures of removal, freezing it off, light exposure (photodynamic therapy performed by a specialist), prescription drugs, and topical treatments.
- While most BCC’s aren’t fatal, in some cases they can spread to affect lymph glands, so it’s definitely worth getting them taken care of!
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
- Typically look like sores, crusty bumps, or ulcers. May also bleed.
- Caused by exposure to UVA and UVB radiation from the sun and tanning beds.
- Grow slowly over months or years.
- Affect the surface skin layers, or can penetrate to the deeper layers. In 5% of SCC cases, they can spread to affect organs and be fatal.
- Smokers are at a higher risk of developing SCC of the lips.
- Treatment includes removal by an in-office procedure.
- The most serious type of skin cancer, caused by both sun exposure and tanning beds.
- Melanoma accounts for less than 1% of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.
- Looks like a new mole or changing existing one. If you have a mole that changes size, shape, color, gets itchy, crusty, or starts bleeding, get it looked at!
- Treatment includes removal, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy for advanced cases.
Your Guide to Sunscreen
Do you skip out on wearing daily sunscreen? (Of course you don’t!)
But, those who do are not alone.
According to Consumer Reports, there are a few reasons people don’t slather on SPF protection on the regular:
I’m here to tell ya if you’re skipping out on sunscreen – for whatever reason – you’re not doing your skin any favors!
Between skin damage, premature aging, and skin cancer risks, you should be applying SPF protection every day.
Don’t skimp! The recommended amount for full body protection is a shot glass full, so don’t be afraid to slather on that goodness!
I’m going to take the cap off this sunscreen business and give you some quick tips so you’ll know how to save your skin with some pro-level sun protection every day.
2 Types of Sunscreen
When it comes to SPF protection, there are two basic varieties.
They’re both effective, and which one you use really comes down to personal preference!
- These sunscreens use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, compounds that sit on the surface of the skin and physically block out UVA and UVB rays.
- Traditional mineral sunscreens would leave a thick, white film on skin (think lifeguards’ noses). But, modern formulas go on silky smooth without leaving behind any white residue.
- I’m a fan of mineral sunscreens! Because they don’t absorb into skin like other formulas, they’re more gentle and less irritating.
- These are the formulas commonly found at drug stores.
- Absorb into deeper layers of skin and provide protection using ingredients such as oxybenzone and avobenzone to block UVA and UVB rays.
- Because they absorb into skin, they don’t rub off as easily or need to be reapplied as often as physical sunscreens (but should still be reapplied every 1-2 hours).
Many people are wary about using chemical sunscreens because of claims that the ingredients could be harmful or cause cancer.
However, the studies surrounding the effects of these ingredients may be inconclusive as they often involve lab animals being exposed to or fed far larger quantities than you would ever experience by just applying regular sunscreen. (Also, we don’t eat sunscreen, just FYI.)
Experts also agree that the benefits of SPF sun protection (mainly, avoiding skin damage and skin cancer) far outway the potentially minimal risks of using sunscreen.
If you have sensitive skin or find that your skin is bothered by sunscreen, try a physical/mineral formula, wear protective SPF clothing, or stick to the shade.
Personally, I love tinted sunscreen – it evens my skin tone and provides coverage while giving me the protection that I need.
Tinted sunscreen + a coat of mascara = a quick and easy morning routine!
Understanding Sunscreen Labels
Making sense of all the info on a sunscreen bottles these days can be confusing.
Is the SPF number the level of protection, or how long I can stay in the sun? Which one is right for me?
Friends, let’s see if we can untangle all this information so you know what you’re working with when it comes to SPF protection.
SPF – Stands for “sun protection factor” or the formula’s ability to shield you from UV rays.
Broad Spectrum – Some sunscreens block out UVB but not UVA rays. Look for one that says “broad spectrum” to ensure you’re getting protection from both.
SPF Number – When you see a number, like SPF 15, on the label, it refers to the amount of sun protection it would give you compared to exposed skin with no protection.
Since unprotected skin usually burns after 10-20 minutes of sun exposure, theoretically, SPF 15 would prevent skin from burning for 15 times longer.
So, 15 x 10 to 20 minutes = 150 to 300 minutes (or 2.5 hours) of protection.
Another common mistake is thinking that SPF 100 offers twice the protection as SPF 50, but it doesn’t work that way.
It breaks down more like this:
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