Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Shreya Singh (Pharmacist) on 09th Oct 2020
Is It Possible To Reverse Sun Damage With A Routine
Sunlight is a mixed blessing. It is absolutely the best natural source of Vitamin D, an essential nutrient that promotes calcium absorption in our body. But overexposure to sun rays can take a toll on your skin, resulting in severe adverse impacts.
Sun exposure is indubitably unavoidable. It could be your work that demands you to run a marathon during the day or your adventurous spirits, or just chilling at the beach for a perfect family vacation!
And if you're guilting over being out, sunning yourself for a good long time, without taking adequate sun-protective measures, worry no more. We are here to help you entirely with this!
Fortunately, it's possible to turn back the clock on sun damage. Although it's not possible to erase all the damage by a hundred per-cent, there are ways through which you can reverse a lot of them up to a great extent.
In this article, we have compiled some highly effective and proven ways for you to repair and reverse your sun-damaged skin. Just read along and face the sun fearless!
What damage does the sun cause to our skin?
The rays emanated by the sun can help and harm us at the same time.
Within the given solar range, we are accessible to two types of Ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun: UV A and UV B.
UV A causes the production of skin darkening pigment called Melanin by triggering the underlying Melanocytes(melanin-producing cells) in the skin as these rays can penetrate deeper into the skin. Melanin pigment renders the skin darker in appearance, leading to suntan, hyperpigmentation and sunspots.
While UV B causes surface layers of the skin to become inflamed and irritated, resulting in sunburn.
These rays penetrate the dermis and cause DNA damage and breakdown of the collagen and elastin present in your skin. With time, it will lead to visible damage in the form of premature aging of the skin, such as wrinkles, sun spots, dull, lifeless, and leathery skin.
Researchers have even linked prolonged UV exposure with increased risk of skin cancer.
UVB rays (burning rays) aren't that intense in the colder months, but UVA rays (aging rays) are present all year long and can even penetrate through windows!
According to research published in 2013, "Almost 80% of visible premature aging is caused by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays itself."
How to reverse sun damage?
The effect of sun damage develops up over time. And it would help if you were savvy enough to start with your sun protection arsenal ASAP.
Building a routine that targets explicitly sun-damaged skin and sticking to it is the key to recovering your skin.
Implementing these necessary steps in your daily skincare routine can help reverse the existing photodamage up to significant degrees and can even prevent further damage:
1. Never miss out on applying your sunscreen
Diligent use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen, too, with an SPF of 30 or above, is an absolute no brainer when it comes to treating and preventing sun damage.
Not to mention, every skin tone and type is susceptible to sun damage. However, darker tones may not sunburn that often, but these rays can still cause other injuries. Also, be it a sunny, cloudy, or rainy day, sun rays can yet penetrate through your skin and cause harm.
And it's worth noting that several scars and pigmentation fading treatments, be it over-the-counter or prescription-based, can make your skin likely more photosensitive, making application of sunblock imperative while undergoing such treatments.
If you're still feeling resistant about wearing sunblock daily, here's one more reason for you:
A 2013 study published/printed in the Annals of International Medicine found that test subjects who use sunscreen daily decreased the speed of the skin's aging process by 24% compared to the group that did not.
Therefore, unless you want to be looking like a shriveled up grape in 20 years, you best slap on that SPF!
2. Load your skin with Antioxidants
Overexposure to the sun and toxic pollutants can trigger our body to release free radicals in the skin. These radicals being unstable, react continuously with the skin cells leading to cellular damage and get in the way of collagen production, which can be visibly seen as fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and other signs of premature aging of the skin.
Antioxidants are a crucial part of the regimen. They combat this process by neutralizing free radicals to ensure that the free radicals are kept at bay and retain a healthy and youthful complexion.
Here are some of the great antioxidants that you can incorporate into your routine:
- Vitamin C: Getting high on Vitamin C is what you need to fight the visible assaults caused by the sun. It remarkably reverses existing sun damage by acting as a powerful antioxidant. Stimulates collagen production that re-texturizes the skin's surface and helps in fading hyperpigmentation. Its long-term use results in a noticeably brighter complexion.
- Niacinamide: Strengthens skin barrier function and enhances elasticity resulting in improved skin texture and appearance. Also, it fades hyperpigmentation, redness, and blotchiness of the skin. It works by blocking the melanin pigment from accumulating under the surface layers.
- Vitamin E: Guards the skin from photodamage and has anti-inflammatory properties that accelerate the healing process.
- Retinol: Boosts the cellular turnover of the skin and stimulates collagen production; abating wrinkles, pigmentation & dark spots and also helps in improving skin's texture.
- Ferulic acid: Inhibits free radical production, which helps slow down the sun's UV rays' aging process.
- Green Tea: Reduces collagen breakdown, prevents UV damage and has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that alleviate skin redness and inflammation.
3. Exfoliate to get rid of dead cells (skin cells)
The excess build-up of dead skin cells on the topmost layer can result in lackluster and irregular appearance. Gently exfoliating with a suitable product can improve the skin's texture and appearance, making it soft and brighter.
A chemical exfoliant should be preferred over a physical one because of the former being more gentle and effective on the skin.
4. Keep your skin hydrated
Environmental assaults from the sun and other pollutants can rip off the natural moisture content of your skin. Make sure to properly hydrate your skin by applying hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
It helps in providing a hydration boost to the skin, making it more plumped-up and dewy-looking. Its long term application can even assist in averting the premature aging of the skin.
5. Chemical Peeling
Getting a chemical peeling done can instantly help in revitalizing sun-damaged skin. This procedure consists of a blend of potent face acids that effectively strips away sun-damaged skin. They aid in the quicker exfoliation of the surface layers by sloughing off dead skin cells and debris.
They peel off the dead and damaged skin layer effectively and reveal the fresh, soft, and luminous skin underneath.
It is scientifically proven to help wash off the unwanted Melanin in our skin and boost our skin's natural regeneration process.
Some of the common acids used in chemical peels are:
However, since they consist of pretty strong acids, they should be used with caution under the guidance of a dermatologist.
Giving your skin ample sun protection is an absolute necessity. Even if you haven't started with a sun protection regimen yet, and have been burning your skin cells in the sun, it's never too late!
You can de-fret yourself by implementing the steps mentioned above in your daily skincare routine. It can help mitigate the effects of sun exposure and even reverse the photodamage that has already been done to your skin, year-round.
Lastly, as the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" therefore, always equip yourself with proper sun protection measures like wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or above and shielding the exposed parts of your skin with protective clothing.
Always remember that sunscreen alone cannot protect you from the sun. Hence, remain in the shade as much as you can.
If possible, minimize staying outdoors when the sun is at its highest.