We all want a golden glow during the summer months, but that sun-kissed look could be more deadly than you think. Our skin has a long memory and it’s storing damage, waiting years or even decades before revealing it, in the form of lines and wrinkles, poor skin tone, brown spots and sagging skin. In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that 90% of skin concerns could actually be the result of sun damage rather than the ageing process.
Prevention is better than cure
This definitely holds true for sun damage, but not many of us use a high factor sunscreen all year round or apply it correctly when we do. The British Association of Dermatologists carried out a survey to mark their Sun Awareness Week last month and found that eight out of ten people in the UK are failing to adequately apply their SPF before venturing out into the sun.
My top tip is to apply a non-comedongenic sunscreen that won’t block skin pores and will help you avoid breakouts. Don’t just slap on your sunscreen before you leave the house; it should be applied liberally at least 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure and then reapplied every two hours.
Know your rays
There are actually two different types of UV rays; UVA rays are less intense than UVB rays, but you are more likely to be exposed to them, even on cloudy days. They can penetrate glass and go deep into the skin which makes them the main cause of photo-ageing. If you have ever burnt, it’s was probably caused by UVB rays that damaged the skin’s surface layer. Changes in skin pigmentation and sun spots are more likely to be caused by UVB rays.
My advice is to find a sunscreen that shields you from both types of UV rays, I personally recommend Heliocare to all my clients. Do not rely on a moisturiser with SPF to protect you, but it can be another valuable layer of defence.
All year round care
We often find that the sun’s appearance heralds the emergence of dark spots on the face which then tend to fade during the winter. However, you can fight sun damage all year round with skincare products that contain potent ingredients.
Sun radiation creates free radicals that are the main culprit in skin ageing. Antioxidants fight the oxidative stress caused by these free radicals and can help reverse sun damage.
My wonder product, C-10, contains 10% Ascorbyl Palmitate, which is the most stable form of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Ascorbic acid can protect against sunburn and can also reduce the lines and wrinkles caused by sun damage.
The signs of sun overexposure may be there on the surface of the skin for all to see, but they are just an external expression of deep damage in the dermis. Our Skin Analysis system can show you what is going on in the deeper level of your skin. My team and I offer a wide range of procedures that can help not only tackle the visible symptoms of sun damage, but also repair it on a deeper level.
We love products that contain salicylic or glycolic acid which encourage cell turnover and loosen dead skin cells. Salicylic acid will make you more sensitive to the sun so use these products at night. My Revive product contains 12% glycolic acid which penetrates the skin for a gentle exfoliation.
The most important thing to know is that it’s never too late to tackle the signs of sun damage.
PS Don't forget a good fake tan can help you look great on your hols without over exposing your skin to the dangers of sun damage. Then with good sun protection you can slowly develop the real thing. BUT never use sunbeds!