Wrinkles, fine lines, and pigmentation to our skin are all normal parts of getting older and unfortunately, chronological aging can’t be stopped. However, most of these changes are attributed to something called photoaging. Photoaging is premature aging of the skin mostly caused by UVA/UVB exposure. Photoaging shows in the skin with fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, “age spots”, freckles, skin sagging, and more!
Light is all around us every day. Prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays causes our skin to tan or burn. Tanning and burning is a sign of skin injury and can permanently change our skin structure. Over time this affects our collagen, elastin, and other fibers that support our skin. Repeated exposure to daily UV light rays, even when we don’t tan or burn (think driving in your car, sitting by a window and outdoor activities) adds to the cumulative photodamage to our skin. There are many other forms of light that can also affect our skin, too. Tanning beds emit ultraviolet light that can cause premature skin aging and skin cancer, and don’t forget about high-energy visible light, or ‘blue’ light! This is light that is emitted from the sun and our devices such as our phones, tablets, or computers.
So, how do you protect yourself and still get to enjoy the sunshine from time to time? Don’t worry, we have some tips! The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., so it is best to seek shade during that time. Protective clothing (think lightweight long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses) is a must. And ALWAYS avoid tanning beds! Remember, tanned skin is actually a sign of injury. If you like the look of bronze skin, opt for a sunless tanning lotion. Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. It is important to wear sunscreen daily even if you are not planning to be not outdoors. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as they too contribute to aging.
Research on skin health is always evolving and we are constantly learning new ways to protect the integrity of our skin. There is growing evidence that diet plays a role in overall skin health. Studies show that a low glycemic diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables can help. Hormone optimization is also important. As we age, male and female hormone levels drop off causing our skin to become thinner, drier, and less elastic. It’s best to incorporate a skincare regimen designed to prevent and reverse photoaging. In addition to sunscreen, skincare products for aging can include topical ingredients such as antioxidants, growth factors, hydroquinone and other pigment lightening products, and retinols. The choices can be overwhelming but the skin experts at your certified dermatologist’s office can help you formulate a plan for a healthier, more confident you!