Picture this: A lazy summer afternoon spent poolside with your bestie. At some point you fall asleep, waking up an hour later with a painful neck and shoulders. A quick check by your friend confirms you are sunburnt like a lobster, having taken sun precautions for your face but failing to slather your body in sunscreen before your afternoon siesta.
While this scenario is all too familiar for many of us, neglecting the skin on our bodies and subjecting it to unbridled sun exposure, can lead to dangerous consequences.
Today, we’ll be highlighting common ways sun damage can leave a lasting impact, and share our top product picks to help target and treat sun damage on the body.
Early Prevention Is Key
We tend to focus a lot on protecting our face from sun exposure. However, our bodies need protection from the sun, too. Ideally, early prevention would have started in our childhood, continuing into our teen and adult years, helping to keep sun damage at bay.
Knowing what we know now about the harmful effects of the sun, it might feel like we’ve lost precious years to sun damage. However, it’s never too late to protect your skin (or start protecting it). The sooner you start, the sooner the reversal effects can begin to take place.
How the Sun Damages Our Skin
As sunlight travels to the Earth’s surface in waves (more commonly known as rays), longer UVA and shorter UVB rays are our skin’s primary concern. We expose our skin to these UV rays, by coming into direct contact with the sun, as well as through the use of tanning beds.
Overexposure to UVB rays can lead to sunburn symptoms, while UVA rays can penetrate beyond the surface of our skin, affecting its growth, and damaging the skin’s structure.
Body-Specific Signs of Sun Damage
Without sun prevention methods in place, sun-damaged skin may develop in the form of age spots on the hands, and shoulders, wrinkles that can lead to premature aging, and worse yet, health conditions like melanoma and other types of skin cancers.
Age spots or liver spots, persist in people over the age of 40 as well as younger people and occur through overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The most common form of liver spots is solar lentigo, initially taking on the appearance of oversized freckles, and potentially growing up to the size of a quarter on the hands, arms, and shoulders.
While wrinkles may be inevitable as we age, sun exposure to UVA rays is what weakens the fibers that keep our skin’s appearance looking firm, leading to crepey-looking skin on our hands, arms, neck, and decolleté area.
Ingredients and Products to Aid Sun Damage Treatment
Sun exposure actually depletes our body’s antioxidant and vitamin reserves in the skin. Replenishment of vitamins and antioxidants through topical products containing Vitamin C and Vitamin E, mitigates damage caused by free radical formation as well as nurtures the skin, post-sun exposure.
Vitamin E is prevalent throughout many foods in our diet, including healthy fats, whole grains, and leafy vegetables. Its powerful antioxidant properties not only provide added protection against the sun when applied to the skin, but also in soothing the skin post-sun exposure, relieving peeling or itchy skin.
Pair Vitamin C and Vitamin E
Vitamin E becomes even more effective when paired with its counterpart, Vitamin C. Recent studies demonstrate the combination of Vitamin C and E, when produced with commercial UVA sunscreen, provides greater protection against sun damage.
Environ A, C, and E Body Oil is our choice for treating dry or sun-damaged skin. It contains an abundance of nourishing vitamins and rich antioxidants while shielding skin from free radical damage and environmental factors.
Available in a variety of formats, including serums, moisturizers, and cleansers, Vitamin C does a kick-butt job of minimizing hyperpigmentation, fading dark spots, and fighting free radicals that speed up the aging process.
Although rare, high acidity levels in Vitamin C products may produce reactions for those prone to sensitivity. ElaSpa’s Vitamin C Optimal Age Repair Serum contains Vitamin C from Kakadu Plum, a superfruit used to fight visible signs of aging. Combined with the hydrating effects of Jojoba Seed Oil, the serum’s pH-balanced formula delivers antioxidant protection without the sensitizing effects.
Pair Vitamin C and Sunscreen
Optimizing your sunscreen with the addition of Vitamin C, has been shown to provide a UV-protective effect that neutralizes free radicals, something which standalone sunscreen is unable to provide.
COOLA’s Mineral Face SPF Matte 30 Tint is formulated with RoseHip Oil, rich in Vitamin C, and formulated for all skin types. It is also water-resistant for up to 40 minutes – perfect for water babies looking to get their swim on (be sure to reapply once towel dry!).
Below, we touch upon the different types of sunscreen available on the market, as well as the importance of researching your sunscreen.
Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreen
Chemical and mineral sunscreens differ in their active ingredients, and how they protect skin from UV rays. Some products contain a combination of chemical and mineral ingredients, emphasizing the importance of conducting thorough sunscreen research prior to purchasing any product.
Synthetic (Chemical) Sunscreen
Common chemical sunscreen ingredients include oxybenzone, and avobenzone, which allow for UV light to penetrate the skin. In turn, this produces a chemical reaction that converts UV light to heat. This conversion breaks down the ingredients, releasing heat into the skin, and causing potential irritation for those with existing skincare concerns.
Studies have also shown chemical sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone cause coral bleaching, a result of sunscreen washing off when we swim in the ocean. The state of Hawaii has gone so far as to ban chemical sunscreens in a bid to protect wildlife.
Mineral-based sunscreens contain zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which form a barrier that sits on the skin’s surface. Often referred to as physical sunscreen, this barrier works to physically block the sun from skin absorption.
At Facial Expressions, we prefer mineral-based sunscreens, not only in how it protects the skin (think millions of tiny mirrors reflecting UV rays away from the skin), but also for their environmentally-friendly, reef-safe ingredients.
In addition to selecting antioxidant-rich topical products and sunscreens containing Vitamins C and E, limit your time in the sun to morning hours or late afternoon, when the sun is less intense. Also, choosing your sun attire wisely will help protect your arms, shoulders and other exposed body parts from the sun’s harmful UV rays, no matter splashing around poolside or among the waves.
Get sun smart just in time for summer – shop our line-up of body products today!