Aging gracefully is all about embracing what that journey means for you while also taking proactive steps to take care of yourself by prioritizing sun protective methods. Protecting your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays is a cornerstone of this journey - and how to protect yourself from skin cancer as well.
By wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen, sun-protective clothing and swimwear with a high UPF rating, and caring for your skin through healthy lifestyle habits, you can prevent premature aging and nurture your skin to help it maintain its youthful glow for years to come.
Remember, it's never too late to start protecting your skin! So, embrace the sun responsibly, protect your skin with lots of tender loving care, and let your radiant, youthful glow shine.
Skin Aging Explained
The sun, with its warm rays and vitamin D benefits, is undeniably essential for life. However, prolonged exposure to its ultraviolet (UV) rays poses significant risks, particularly to our skin. According to the National Library of Medicine, "exposure to UV radiation is considered to be one of the factors responsible for aging termed as photoaging."
This study went on to showcase the effect of UV rays on skin aging and found the following:
"UV radiations contribute about 80% in the skin disease development including skin aging and skin cancer. Thus UV radiation is a causative factor for skin aging.
Repeated exposure to UV increases the degradation of collagen and alters the synthesis of new collagen accompanied by alterations in elastin fibers. The absence of both collagen and elastin in the skin leads to loss of its flexibility and strength. In addition, the skin also loses the ability to repair itself. "
Additional factors that contribute to skin aging include but are not limited to the following:
- Smoking and pollution
- Poor nutrition, lack of sleep, and water loss
- Cell metabolism and stress
This all contributes to damage to your DNA, accelerated aging, and cutaneous cell death.
The Effect of UV Exposure on Your Skin
As you age, the effects of UV exposure become more apparent. Wrinkles, fine lines, sun spots, and a loss of skin elasticity are telltale signs of skin that has been damaged by the sun. Over time, this damage can contribute to a more weathered and aged appearance, making you look older than you feel.
The Role Sun Protection Plays in Keeping Your Skin Looking Youthful
Sun-Protection Tip #1: Wear Broad-Spectrum, SPF 30+ Sunscreen (Especially on Your Face)
Sun protection is vital for keeping your skin protected from UV rays. As "80% of facial aging is attributed to sun exposure," one of the best ways to keep your face looking youthful is by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen everyday.
As Board-Certified Dermatologist Alexandra Zeitany MD, FAAD, shared with us "Sunscreen is important year round, but it’s especially important to practice excellent sun safety in the summer when the sun’s UV rays are more intense."
She continued, "You want to apply sunscreen every morning. But you also want to make it easy to reapply sunscreen throughout the day. Put sunscreen in high traffic areas (like by the door or in your car) and stock up on versions that are easy to reapply, like powders or sunscreen sprays."
Remember to choose the right sunscreen as not all sunscreens are created equal. Understanding the labels and choosing the right sunscreen for your skin type and activities is crucial. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30.
Sun-Protection Tip #2: Opt for UPF Clothing
Dr. Zeitany shares that we should approach sun protection in lines of defense. Your first line of defense is to protect your skin from the sun by avoiding the sun during peak times (before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.) and seek out shade.
Your second line of defense is your clothing. You want to find UPF clothing with a rating that is 50+. This type of clothing will block out over 98% of the sun's UVA ad UVB rays so you can do the outdoor activities you love while keeping skin aging at bay.
Your last line of defense is to add sunscreen as well to those areas your UPF clothing doesn't cover - and make sure to always wear sunscreen on your face.
Sun-Protection Tip #3: Hydrate
Dermatologists will all tell you that dehydrated skin leads to premature skin aging. Boosting your skin's water content is one of the most efficient ways to combat visible signs of aging.
Additionally, if you're spending a lot of time in the sun and get sunburn, hydrating and drinking more water can help your sunburn heal quicker.
Remember to Embrace Healthy Skin Habits
It's important to remember to take care of your skin when you're not in the sun as well. Hydrate adequately, maintain a balanced diet rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and prioritize a skincare routine that includes gentle cleansing, moisturizing, and regular exfoliation to support your skin's natural rejuvenation process.