We’re all yearning for that sexy, bronzed look we see on the cover of magazines or even in our Instagram feed - and some of us can do some pretty crazy things to get the result… for example, laying in the sun all day or lounging in tanning beds. We may get that golden goddess look, or (most of the time) turn out like a bright red tomato, however a lot of you are unaware that we’re simultaneously damaging our largest organ in the body - our SKIN!
Sun damage, also referred to as photoaging, photodamage, solar damage, etc. occurs when ultraviolet (UV) light hits the skin - whilst unprotected by sunscreen - causing DNA changes at a cellular level, and permanently damaging the skin’s structure. Dermatologists have found that because sun damage occurs in the deepest layers of the skin, also known as the ‘dermis’, it can take years for the physical damage to surface where visible - yikes! Keep in mind that this can also lead to premature aging and skin cancer. Signs of sun damage begin in your teen years and range to your early twenties. You’re probably wondering ‘what are these signs?’ - well, they include the following:
- Pigmentation changes - freckles, age spots, and liver spots (solar lentigines).
- Loss of skin tone, also known as decreased elasticity.
- Rough or uneven texture of skin.
- Redness and blotchiness.
- Broken capillaries (A.K.A spider veins) commonly found around the nose and chest.
Yeah, NOT IDEAL. In order to get a clear visual of supposed sun damage, it is best to compare an area of skin on your body that has not been exposed to the sun with the skin on your face - let’s be real, we’ve all had rosy red cheeks after a day in the sun at some point in our lives.
So, who is susceptible to sun damage? The answer is everyone. Although, the severity of sun damage can depend on factors such as: your skin type; how much unprotected sun exposure you’ve sustained over the years; and geographical factors such as latitude and climate. Dermatologists have found that people who have light skin are generally more susceptible to sun damage and skin cancer. Although, people with dark skin can reap the same effects. Dermatologists use the ‘Fitzpatrick’s Scale’ to assess sun damage risks associated to different skin types:
- Type 1 - Pale skin tone, light-coloured eyes, blonde or red hair. Always burns, doesn’t tan (we all know someone).
- Type 2 - Fair skin tone with light-coloured eyes. Burns easily but may tan.
- Type 3 - Medium light skin tone that initially burns and then proceeds to tan.
- Type 4 - Light brown skin tone that tans with minimal burning.
- Type 5 - Medium brown skin tone that rarely burns.
- Type 6 - Dark brown or black skin that tans easily and never burns.
Sun damage unfortunately cannot be removed entirely, however it can be minimised with certain treatments such as: lasers; chemical peels; photodynamic therapy; topical medications; and cryotherapy. It is recommended that you consult with a dermatologist or skin specialist prior to undertaking any treatment. Good news though, it’s NEVER too late to start practicing sun safety, especially if you want to prevent yourself from getting damaged by the big, yellow ball in the sky!
We at Ritology recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which will shield you from those beaming UV rays. An SPF of 30 or higher is always advised - especially water resistant formulas! Don’t forget to re-apply every two hours, also post swimming or exercising. Stay up to date with @RitologyDaily for more tips to slip, slop and slap!