How to Prevent and Reverse Sun Damage This Spring












Spring has finally arrived, and you may be one of many Americans counting down the days until your long-awaited spring break. Before you head out to soak up the sun, however, you should know how to protect yourself from the damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays, which are some of the most significant contributors to signs of premature aging. What can you do to practice smart sun safety habits, and is it possible to reverse sun damage you’ve accumulated in the past?

How Excessive Sun Exposure Damages Your Skin

When it comes to preventing sun damage, the first thing you should realize is that the sun’s ultraviolet rays are responsible for as much as 90 percent of the visible aging of your skin, including:

  • Wrinkles
  • Discoloration
  • Brown spots
  • Uneven tone and texture
  • Loss of skin elasticity

Though you may have spent hours in your younger years laying out at the pool, or routinely visited tanning beds in pursuit of that bronzed-skin look, we now know there is no safe way to tan if you want to keep your skin healthy. The consequences of overexposure to UV rays are both cosmetic and medical. Tanning means doing yourself much more harm than good when it comes to premature aging, while simultaneously increasing your risk of developing skin cancer.

Tips for Preventing Sun Damage

Even if you were careless about protecting your skin in your past, it’s not too late to start developing habits that prevent future sun damage and keep any existing signs of visible aging from getting noticeably worse.

  • Wear sunscreen: Regularly applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is essential if you want radiant, youthful-looking skin. Use the changing of the seasons as your reminder to develop a routine of wearing sunscreen year-round – not just in the spring and summer months. Daily use of sunscreen may even lower your long-term risk of skin cancer by reducing repeated sun exposure, giving your skin time to heal and your immune system the chance to repair some existing damage.
  • Hydrate: Sun exposure can dry out the skin, leaving you with rough patches. A moisturizer with hyaluronic acid can make skin appear less wrinkled by attracting and retaining more water in your skin cells. Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water during the day. Dry skin is more vulnerable to damage from the elements, and when you don’t get enough hydration, your skin will be the first place to show it.
  • Get plenty of rest: When the sun starts to set later and later, it can make you want to delay your bedtime, too. But maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is one of the best things you can do for healthy, glowing skin. Restorative sleep gives your body the opportunity it needs to repair the cell damage that adds up during the day due to UV rays and environmental pollutants.

Can You Reverse Past Sun Damage?

If you were a devoted sun worshipper in your teens and 20s, you may be paying the price now in terms of looking older than you truly are. However, the good news is there are proactive steps you can take to reverse sun damage and reveal better-looking skin.

  • Exfoliate regularly: An accumulation of dead skin cells can cause your skin to have a dull, tired appearance. Use at-home scrubs and cleansers to remove this dead skin for a smoother, brighter look.
  • Fraxel and IPL treatments: Laser skin care is one of the most effective ways to remove years of sun damage while making you look younger and more refreshed. Treatment with these lasers is customizable, based on your concerns, and is an excellent way to renew your appearance.
  • Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion is a painless, chemical-free way to remove the top layer of skin and reveal a fresh, new surface. This skin rejuvenation treatment also stimulates the production of new collagen, a protein that is abundant in younger skin, but which declines as you age. You will notice anti-aging benefits, including a reversal of sun damage and discoloration, after a professional microdermabrasion session.

Professional Skin Care Solutions for Sun Damage

Dr. Seth Matarasso is a clinical professor of dermatology and a leading provider of cosmetic and medical skin care in the San Francisco area. If you are concerned about sun damage and are looking for non-surgical ways to turn back the clock, contact our office to schedule your appointment.