Last Reviewed on April 30, 2020 by Alice Pien, MD & Asher Milgrom, PhD
Oh how we love the way the sun feels, but oh how we hate what it does… sun damaged skin!
Yes, the sun does make flowers bloom and trees grow, but flora was designed for that purpose.
Human skin on the other hand, was not designed to withstand the effects of prolonged exposure to the sun, especially lighter skin.
The Sun’s Damaging Effects on Skin
But if feels sooo good, how much damage can the sun really do?
Let me tell you about my hot tub. It lives in my backyard covered with a Kevlar cover.
That’s right, the same stuff that stops bullets. And yet, every 3-4 years I have to replace it because it is shredded by the SoCal sun.
Your over exposed skin, even with its rather magical regenerative and healing capabilities, doesn’t fare much better because of the inevitable effects of a sun induced process called “Solar Elastosis”.
Breakdown of Collagen
Your fabulously strong highly organized, resilient, pliable and sexy collagen is broken down by the sun and replaced with short, stubby, disorganized and defective elastin fibers.
Consequently your dermis thins and loses it structural integrity, causing your skin to wrinkle and sag.
In extreme cases, so much of this defective elastin is created, that your skin actually thickens and becomes extremely wrinkled and leather like.
Our patients that play on the senior PGA tour have the most sun damaged skin and are perfect examples of how extensive sun exposure causes deeply wrinkled leathery skin. (Such wonderful people, with some of the most sun damaged skin we have ever treated!)
If ugly looking sun damaged skin isn’t bad enough, chew on this: 80% to 90% of skin cancers are caused by sun exposure.
While Basal and Squamous Cell carcinomas are relatively minor issues, Melanoma is an outright killer that can easily and quickly spread throughout your entire body. Take this seriously; a small pea-sized spot of melanoma on your skin can spread (metastasize) to multiple organs in a matter of weeks.
More on skin cancer later.
5 Signs Your Skin is Sun Damaged
We all know that sun damage doesn’t happen overnight. For those of us who love to be in the sun, I am sorry to reveal that the reality about our skin is the fact that repeated exposure to UVA rays is one of the most powerful factors responsible for the aging of our skin.
Because these UVA rays are capable of penetrating and breaking down collagen, they directly inhibit the production of healthy elastin that is needed to maintain our skin’s youth.
To keep us all on top of the changes we see over time, it is important for us to recognize and understand the kinds of damage that is caused by sun exposure to the skin. Here are the five signature signs of sun damaged skin.
Since the sun literally sucks out moisture and natural oils that lubricate the skin, years of repeated sun exposure can leave your face looking dehydrated and flaky.
Constantly exposing your skin to the sun causes it to become thick and almost leathery, because of the depletion of collagen. Rays can also cause other texture irregularities, as well as skin cancer and pre-cancerous lesions.
The sun revs up melanin production, causing age spots, which can be brown, black or even gray. The are usually found on the forehead, near the temples, on the chest, shoulders and hands.
As the sun’s harmful rays come into contact with your skin, they break down the structural walls of the tiny blood vessels in the face. The more the walls are broken down, the more rupturing there is, resulting in red, broken capillaries.
Excessive sun exposure can contribute to the development of Rosacea most commonly found in patients of Northern European descent with fair skin – which leaves the skin red, blotchy and irritated.
Lines and Wrinkles
Because the sun breaks down collagen and elastin, fine lines and wrinkles result. Deeper folds and wrinkles, especially around the mouth, are commonly associated with years of sun exposure, too.
How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun
So what’s a gal or guy who loves the sun and the outdoors to do?
First and foremost, love your life and do the things you love to do with passion and enthusiasm. I am serious about this; joy is an essential prerequisite to health.
Do not diminish your joy in living because of a future possibility of a health challenge, especially one that can be minimized by simply being disciplined and smart.
Avoid Sun Exposure
Be disciplined, smart and deliberate about minimizing direct sun exposure whenever possible.
Sunscreen, Sunscreen and more Sunscreen
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Applied religiously on a daily basis.
Use at least SPF 40 that is “broad spectrum” (blocks UVA & UVB), and when playing outdoors apply it before you leave your home and again at high noon.
Note: All sunscreens lose their protective potency in 4-5 hours.
Wear a Hat
Wear a hat with as wide a brim as you can tolerate, as well as long sleeves and long pants if sensible.
Moisturize and Hydrate
Keep your skin well moisturized and hydrated. Did I mention sunscreen?
Even MORE Sunscreen
Sun protection is essential, particularly during the summer months when you want to be out as much as possible enjoying the warm air and great weather.
Protecting ourselves from the sun needs to become a daily ritual that we complete “religiously” every day without even thinking about it… like brushing our teeth.
Apply Twice a Day
It is so important to apply twice a day, once in the morning before we leave our homes, and mid-day, to replenish its strength, as even the best sunblock lasts only 4-5 hours max.
Make sure that you don’t come away from your recreational activities with sunburns and long-lasting sun damage to your skin.
Foundation Powders are NOT Enough
Foundation powders, even if they are listed to have an SPF of 10 or more, do not offer sufficient sun protection with the kind of coverage that most people use. One would have to apply much more to their skin than would be reasonable in daily makeup.
We suggest using a broad-spectrum sunscreen before applying the makeup to ensure that your skin is protected from the sun.
Broad Spectrum Sunscreen!
The key is in ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreens – products that protect against both UVA and UVB rays, the two harmful wavelengths in sunlight.
Most sunscreens on the market do not protect against both! So, while you may be faithfully applying your sunscreen every morning before you go out regardless of the weather, you may not actually be as protected as you think you are.
Finding the best products for your skin can often be difficult, especially when it comes to sun protection. Luckily, we’ve done all the work and found our top products for you to use in your summer skincare regimen.
Epionce Ultra Shield Lotion SPF 50
It was one of the first sunblocks that qualified to be categorized as a “Broad Spectrum” sunblock, as it blocked both UVA and UVB energy from the sun. Thus is provides superior protection against sun burn and skin cancer. Use it 30 minutes before sun exposure and free your skin from sun damage.
An additional highlight of this product is that it is an anti-inflammatory, and has a water base, so it feels light and doesn’t clog your pores.
Solar Protection Formula Tizo 3 SPF 40
The Solar Protection Formula products are specifically designed to block the complete light spectrum. It’s the perfect product to add to your everyday regimen.
What we like about it is that it doesn’t have any chemical sunscreens, so it may be a better choice for those with sensitive skin.
It is also tinted so it disappears when applied on skin with a bit of color in it.
A Final Note
Lastly, though there is no official scale that computes sun exposure to signs of aging, you can be sure that the causative correlation is real. Simply put, the more sun exposure you subject your skin to, the more you are accelerating the aging of your skin.
So enjoy the sun, in moderation, and while protecting it thoroughly from sun damage.
If anything on your skin looks suspicious, especially if anything has suddenly changed, don’t hesitate to see your dermatologist ASAP. If your skin has many spots and/or moles (nevi), take digital photos every 3-4 months so that you can verify and document changes that might be happening.
There’s no doubt that spending time out in the sun has an extremely positive impact on your health and wellbeing. Fresh air, exercise, and the uplifting effect of a sunny day are necessary to all of our lives.
However, if we don’t protect our skin, that fun-in-the-sun time can produce premature wrinkles, spotting, scaling and more frightening sun damage underneath the surface, such as cancer.
Skin cancer is one of the most common kind of cancer in the United States.
Skin cancer is not a matter to be taken lightly. Neither are negative effects on your appearance!
Don’t fear, however. AMA Regenerative Medicine & Skincare has a wide variety of products and procedures to both repair and eliminate prior sun damage to your skin, as well as protecting you from future sun damage.
We will arm you with all the tools and knowledge you need to go out and soak up as many of the life-giving rays as you want, without having to worry that you’re doing more harm than good to yourself.
Our unique, leading-edge laser treatments – such as the innovative, holistic SpectraLift™ Non Surgical Facelift as well as smaller, more targeted ‘spot treatments’ – are individually tailored to your unique skin, and its precise condition.
Not only do they eliminate the appearance of this damage, but they actually neutralize sun damaged skin cells underneath, restoring your skin to a truly healthier condition and reducing the risk of cancerous cells forming.
How to Repair Sun Damaged Skin
The truth is that most creams and serums are not able to completely repair the signs of sun damage, as they are simply not powerful enough to physiologically change the existing damaged cells, or inspire new collagen production.
Wearing sunscreen is a must to keep from incurring further exposure and damage from the sun, but repairing and revitalizing the cells is what will truly help rid the sun damaged skin from the unsightly damage that has already taken place.
AMA Regenerative Medicine & Skincare has specifically developed Advanced Holistic Laser Protocols that are not only incredible for repairing the signs of sun damage and premature aging of the skin, they inspire and help the skin to physiologically operate as if it was years younger and protect your skin from developing skin cancers in the future.
The Good News
From our vantage point of over 20 years of conducting extensive research and performing over 85,000 advanced comprehensive laser skin treatments, we are certain that your sun damaged skin has an enormous and natural regenerative capacity that can be tapped and stimulated.
If your skin has already paid a price to the sun, resulting in sun spots, wrinkles, and uneven texture, then get on the path to healing today. Your sun damage can be repaired through AMA’s revolutionary, holistic process of Physiological Transformation.
Healthier, Stronger and Younger Skin
Our unique protocols and highly trained specialists can actually renew your skin from the inside out, making it healthier, stronger, and younger on the inside so that it is years younger, healthier, and more beautiful on the outside, naturally.
State-of-the-Art Lasers and Integrative Modalities
The expanding array of high-tech, state-of-the-art energy devices such as lasers, synergistically combined with a variety of natural and integrative modalities, allows for holistic customization of protocols to fit everyone’s skin on an individual basis.
Whether you think your skin needs just a little “tune-up”, or whether you’ve concluded that your sun damaged skin is a hopeless train-wreck, we have seen even the worst cases come back to life with fresher, younger, stronger, healthier and much more beautiful skin.
We call this the PHYSIOLOGICAL “REBIRTH” of your skin, which can be achieved without invasive procedures.
Physiological Rebirth of Your Skin
Bottom line, your skin can physiologically function as it did when you were in much younger, rebuilding and “rebirthing” itself from the inside out.
It doesn’t matter what caused the damage, cystic acne, melasma, rosacea, stretch marks, sun damage or aging, your skin can look years younger, healthier and more beautiful because it actually IS younger and healthier.
About the Authors
Doctors Alice Pien, MD and Asher Milgrom, Phd are established pioneers in the fields of Regenerative Medicine and Skincare. Their expertise ranges from advanced laser systems to HCT/P – Stem Cell medicine. Their medical education and advanced certifications span from medical schools of NY State University, the University of Chicago, to Johns Hopkins, Harvard and UCLA. They approach medicine with the clinical expertise of over 85,000 successful treatments over the past 20 years and significant scientific research resulting in proprietary protocols that they customize for each individual patient.