Sun Damaged Skin | The Dark Side of Sun Exposure
Tanning by the shore, lazy afternoons by the pool, long summer hikes - these activities sound relaxing and carefree, but unless your skin is protected, the results of those sundrenched days will show on your skin in years to come. Sun damage is far more serious than many realize - it affects the texture and health of the skin on your face, but also can cause deeper problems like melanoma, which can be deadly. Many people suffer from melasma, which appears as red and brown spots on the face and especially the cheeks.
People with fair skin are predisposed to more severe sun damage; people in less temperate climates are also more at risk because their exposure to the sun is greater. Fortunately, we now have access to the best in skincare to treat and prevent sun-damaged skin, and, most importantly, sunscreen! Read on to find ways to reverse sun-damaged skin at home, and to prevent any more damaging rays from affecting your health and beauty.
Signs of Sun Damage
The first sign of sun-damaged skin is a tan; despite the bronzed glow being highly coveted, a tan is evidence that your skin is already sustaining damage from UV rays. A burn, of course, makes that even more evident. Dryness, peeling, and itching often follow a bad burn. Fine lines and wrinkles begin to show next, along with freckles (not the kind you’re born with!) and dark spots. Lesions and irregular spots or growths are very serious signs that your skin has been badly damaged by the sun - always see a dermatologist if a spot looks irregular or has changed recently.
If you’ve gathered your share of dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles over your lifetime, there are ways to reverse the damage and get your skin back on the right track.
One powerful ingredient - vitamin A or retinol, its derivative - is a cream or gel that works overtime to repair damage from the sun. Retinol can even the skin, fading dark spots and smoothing and repairing texture and tone. It stimulates fresh collagen production and the skin’s natural ability to heal. People with sensitive skin can react to retinol with dryness or irritation, so it should be applied sparingly at first. Look for pure, stabilized retinol - it’s encapsulated for a slower release and won’t be a trigger for sensitive skin.
Sun damage can lead to tiny broken capillaries, or blood vessels, especially around the nose. The sun causes collagen breakdown, making the tiny vessels break and your skin appear red. Some laser treatments stimulate the skin to heal, helping to create a new layer of healthy skin and collagen.
Exfoliants remove a tiny layer of skin on the surface, revealing a fresh layer below. Some signs of skin damage can be treated through exfoliation; the biggest benefit is that exfoliating helps to rid the skin of dead cells and pollutants, allowing products to penetrate deeper and more quickly to treat the damage.
Preventing Sun Damage on Skin
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and never was this more true than with the havoc that the sun can wreak on your skin. Baking in the sun on hot summer days may bronze your skin, but it’s also damaging it while you tan, resulting in premature aging and increasing the risk of developing skin cancer.
Sunscreen is your best tool to prevent damage - we recommend the best below. Avoid clear sunscreens, as they likely have nano-particles that remain untested (steer clear of these until more is known about their effects). Also choose creams and lotions over sprays and powders, which can be accidentally inhaled. Instead, try mineral-based sunblocks, white-colored zinc, or titanium oxide products, like BelleCôte’s Double Sun Protection Cream. Always choose a mineral sunblock with no chemicals. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours, and more if you’re swimming. Always put your sunscreen on 15-20 minutes before heading outside.
Wear Protective Clothing
Protective clothing can also have a big impact on damage prevention - pack a hat in your purse, throw a light shawl or cover-up over your shoulders, or choose items that have built-in sun protection.
Avoid Tanning Bed
Never visit a tanning bed - natural-looking tans can be found in sprays and lotions, so there’s no need to expose yourself to harmful UV rays just for a healthy glow. In certain places like the beach, it can at times be difficult or impossible to find shade. Add to that the reflections off the water, and you’re in a situation where it’s best to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day. Harmful ultraviolet rays can do significant damage to your skin, even on overcast and cloudy days - the exposure adds up - so make daily sunscreen a part of your personal practice.
Sun Protection Cream
Our BelleCôte Double Sun Protection Cream SPF 30 protects your skin not only with minerals, but also with marine sun filters like chlorella and spirulina, reducing sun spots, preventing photoaging, reducing hyperpigmentation, and leaving a matte, shine-free finish.
Marine Collagen anti-aging cleanser is ideal on sun damaged skin. Velvety soft, this face wash removes all impurities and debris without irritation. Simultaneously restore the protective layer of your skin to guard against future exposure, deeply hydrate, and nourish sun-damaged skin.
Marine Collagen Anti-aging toner, deeply hydrating and healing, is one of our best tools to combat skin damage from the sun. This toner restores pH balance and increases resilience to environmental damage. Because it is fermented and unprocessed, this toner delivers all nutrients in their purest form and repairs and even reverses sun damage.
Wrinkle Erasing Serum
Bellecote Wrinkle Erasing Serum is hydrating, healing moisture with amino acids that rebuild the skin to reveal a healthy glow. Hyaluronic acid boosts the skin's ability to repair during trauma, sun damage, and recovery, soothing and hydrating as it heals the skin. BelleCôte Paris Wrinkle Erasing Serum made the top of the list of hydrating products of the December issue of American Spa magazine - this one is a must.
Our PM Perfect - Advanced Recovery Night Repair Serum with stabilized pure retinol, antioxidants, and skin repairing ingredients releases slowly into your skin and activates your ability to self-repair. This serum also reduces sun spots and wrinkles, and resurfaces the skin’s texture. Because it’s encapsulated, this retinol is better for sensitive skin than a typical retinol that can cause irritation.
The best home remedy is reducing your sun exposure. Stay inside during the hottest parts of the day, wear a hat, and ALWAYS apply sunscreen over your moisturizer or serum, even when it’s not warm or sunny outside. If you can’t avoid the sun, consider going out in the morning or evening when the rays are less harmful. Clothing can provide an extra layer of protection, so invest in a fabulous hat. Lasers, exfoliants, and peels are often used to treat the signs of sun damaged skin, and to help quality ingredients penetrate the skin better. Use products that both protect and restore your skin from sun damage with ingredients like retinol and marine sun filters.