facial sun damage skincare sunscreen

Facial Sun Damage: The Importance of Sunscreen

Sunscreen is more than a necessity for a day at the beach, it is an essential part of your daily skincare regimen. Exposure to the sun is the leading cause of premature wrinkling, aging of the skin, age spots, and an increased risk of skin cancer.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so I wanted to give you a facial plastic surgeon’s perspective on the importance of sunscreen. Read on for more on facial sun damage and the importance of sunscreen, including why it’s necessary and how to choose the best sunscreen.

Why You Should Wear Sunscreen

Why wear sunscreen? It’s simple: sun protection is key to keeping your skin looking young and healthy. Wearing sunscreen is important for many reasons. It can help protect you from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can cause facial sun damage, premature aging, and cancer. A few minutes of daily sun protection can help keep your skin healthy.

When To Wear Sunscreen

Most of us know that it’s important to protect our skin from the sun. But many people only apply sunscreen if they are spending a day in the sun at the beach or the pool. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, “Men, women and children over 6 months of age should use sunscreen every day. This includes people who tan easily and those who don’t.”

It’s important to wear sunscreen every day. Even on cloudy days, skin is susceptible to the sun’s rays. And even if your skin doesn’t burn easily, it is still being exposed to harmful rays that will age your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer.

How To Choose The Right Sunscreen

So how do you choose the right sunscreen? There are a few things to keep in mind.

Sunscreen Prevent Sun Damage

Look for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is important to take into consideration when choosing your sunscreen. SPF measures the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation required to cause the skin to burn. The higher the SPF, the more protected your skin is. For skin protection, never choose a sunscreen that is less than 30 SPF.

Make sure the sunscreen includes both UVA and UVB protection

Ultraviolet Rays Skin Facial Sun Damage

Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) are the two main types of ultraviolet rays that reach the earth’s surface. According to skincancer.org, UVA is associated with skin aging and UVB is associated with skin burning. So when you’re looking for sunscreen, be sure that it protects both types of rays.

Choose a sunscreen that is water-resistant

While no sunscreen is really fully waterproof, water-resistant sunscreens generally last longer and remain effective for a longer period of time. These sunscreens are formulated to stay on skin when exposed to water, but be sure that you are reapplying every 2 hours, especially if you are swimming or sweating.

More Ways To Avoid Facial Sun Damage

Wearing effective sunscreen every day is key, but there are additional ways to protect your skin from facial sun damage:

Stay inside during peak UV hours

Avoid the sun between the hours of 10:00am and 3:00pm. This is when the ultraviolet rays are the strongest.

Stay in the shade

When you are outside, especially when the rays are the strongest, try to stay in the shade.

Wear protective clothing

Ultraviolet protection clothing can protect your skin from the sun’s rays. Unlike sunscreen, your clothing will protect you all day long.

Do NOT use tanning beds!

I cannot stress this one enough. If you are looking for a nice tan glow, use a tanning lotion rather than laying out in the sun or using a tanning bed.

Protect your eyes and lips

Don’t forget to protect your eyes and your lips as well as your skin. When you’re out in the sun, always wear UV-blocking sunglasses and 30 SPF chapstick on your lips!

How To Reverse Facial Sun Damage

In recent years, we have developed an improved understanding of the long-term effects of sun exposure. Unfortunately, laying out in the sun, letting our skin burn to ‘get a good base,’ or using tanning beds were accepted and typical practices until fairly recently. That means a lot of us are left with decades of sun exposure and the resulting damage. Sun-damaged skin might exhibit brown age spots, over-freckling, or a leathery appearance. Excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancers, which require removal and reconstruction.

Chemical peels and laser treatments are effective for treating focused sun damage like age spots. Chemical peels and lasers induce controlled injury directed at the unwanted pigment, triggering the body’s natural healing process to fade the spots. An overall leathery appearance can be smoothed and rejuvenated with lasers and chemical peels. Both are popular treatments for wrinkles, sun damage, and scarring.

Dr. Diana Ponsky is a Facial Plastic Surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio. She is Double Board Certified in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Ponsky focuses exclusively on the face, head, and neck. Schedule a consultation here.

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