When it comes to premature skin aging, many blame (prolonged and unprotected) sun exposure. Although it is true that the sun plays a big role in aging the skin too soon, it also has a number of positive effects. But just like any other things, sun exposure should only be in moderation for you to avoid its harmful effects.
The good thing about the sun
A small or moderate amount of sun is good for our overall health. It can help our body create essential vitamins and treat certain health conditions. Here are the other benefits of moderate sun exposure:
Source of vitamin D – Exposure to sunlight causes the body to make vitamin D through cholesterol. This vitamin plays a major role in calcium absorption and normal development of bones and teeth. About 15- to 30-minute of sun exposure (several times a week) is the recommended amount to create vitamin D.
Boosts mood – Sunlight increases the levels of a hormone called serotonin in the brain. This is associated with improved mood and feeling more focused or calmer. Low levels of serotonin, meanwhile, are related to a higher risk of depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Improves sleep – Sunlight helps regulate our sleeping patterns, as it affects the amount of melatonin the brain makes. This hormone tells your body when it is time to sleep. Getting daylight exposure can assist the body in producing melatonin at the right time. Research also suggests that early exposure to sunlight helps in falling asleep faster.
Helps reduce stress – The happy hormones (serotonin) produced by sun exposure can enhance mood and reduce stress. The sun or summertime also prompts us to be more active or spend more time in nature, which then helps in reducing stress/anxiety and improving well-being.
Helps treat certain skin conditions – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sunrays might help treat certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema. Do take note, however, that this is not for everyone. It is best to consult a healthcare provider or a skin doctor to determine if this is right for you.
The bad thing about the sun
Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Prolonged exposure to the sun can be harmful for your skin and general health. Here are some of its harmful effects:
Premature aging – Sun exposure is the main cause of premature skin aging. It can cause wrinkles and sunspots, especially on areas that are commonly exposed to the sun. UV radiation, furthermore, accelerates the breakdown of collagen and skin elasticity.
Sunburn – Too much sun (UVB rays) can damage the DNA of your skin cells and cause sunburn. Changes to the skin appear within a couple of hours after the exposure, with common symptoms such as redness, pain, swelling, and blisters. Tanning beds can also cause sunburn.
Eye damage/injuries – Long-term exposure to UV rays can damage eye tissues, especially the cornea and lens of the eye. It can also blur your vision and cause other problems like redness, general pain, and light sensitivity. This may also contribute to the development of cataract.
Skin cancers – According to the American Cancer Society, UV rays in sunlight can cause most skin cancer. The most common types, basal cell and squamous cell cancers, are associated with lifetime sun exposure. Man-made sources of UV rays like tanning beds can also increase your risk of developing skin cancers.
Be smart about the sun
The good news is you can prevent skin damage due to sun exposure. Getting the right amount of exposure and protection matters. Here are a few things that can help:
- Wear sunscreen daily – Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Use sunscreen the right way; apply 20 to 30 minutes before going out and don’t forget overlooked areas such as the ears, lips, hairline, and the neck/chest area.
- Avoid peak hours – Be sure to avoid or limit sun exposure when UV rays are the strongest (between 10am and 4pm). Plan your outdoor activities accordingly to prevent overexposure.
- Cover up or seek shade – Wear hats, sunglasses, and clothing to protect your skin from sun rays. It is also advisable to find shade, use an umbrella, or go inside to avoid direct sun exposure.
Dealing with sun damage
If you already notice sun damage/premature signs of aging and want to improve or reduce their appearance, being smart about the sun helps. Undergoing certain aesthetic procedures can also help. These include:
- Limelight IPL – this non-invasive laser procedure uses “intense pulse light” to address a range of skin concerns. It can treat brown spots, freckles, and uneven complexion.
- Pearl laser resurfacing – it uses pulses of light to treat the skin’s top layers and remove the sun-damaged surface. It can reduce the appearance of acne marks, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.
- VI Peel – this chemical peel treatment features clinically proven ingredients to improve skin tone and texture. It can treat fine lines, sun damage, freckles, and acne marks on the face, neck, and chest.
Don’t let the sun negatively affect your skin and health. Consider the tips mentioned above, as well as aesthetic treatments for reversing sun damage. Contact Cutis Laser Clinics in Singapore today and schedule a consultation with our aesthetic doctor to find out which treatments are right for you.