Aging. As inevitable as death and taxes, right? Some of us age more gracefully than others, and when it comes to our skin care, there are a whole host of factors that play into how well our routine can hold up over time.
From diet to pollution, sleep deprivation to stress, there’s one culprit that does the most damage to our skin. Remember when your mom would force you to sit on the towel under the umbrella at the beach and smother you with thick, white sunscreen while warning you not to get a sunburn? We hate to say it, but your mom was right. While we wish we could reveal some amazing new find about what really causes skin aging and how to prevent it to let you sun lovers off the hook, UV rays are in fact the biggest offender. As little as a few minutes a day of sunlight without protection over time can lead to dark spots, wrinkles, sagging skin and even skin cancer.
According to Cancer.org there are three main types of UV rays:
– UVA rays age skin cells and can damage their DNA. These rays are linked to long-term skin damage such as wrinkles, but they are also thought to play a role in some skin cancers. Most tanning beds give off large amounts of UVA, which has been found to increase skin cancer risks.
– UVB rays can directly damage skin cells’ DNA, and are the main rays that cause sunburns. They are also thought to cause most skin cancers.
– UVC rays don’t get through our atmosphere and are not in sunlight. They are not normally a cause of skin cancer.
The amount of UV rays in our atmosphere is affected by a number of factors including the time of day, time of year, elevation and cloud coverage. (To learn more about the current level of UV Rays in your area, click here.)
Similar to repeatedly stretching out a rubber band, over time, your skin loses its ability to repair itself and the damage becomes irreversible. Cumulative UV exposure breaks down collagen, which is the main protein connective tissue in our body, and the process of creating new tissue becomes harder and harder. The same is true for elasticity. The greater the damage, the harder it is for skin to repair itself, and signs of aging start to accumulate.
One of the determining factors for how the sun will affect your skin is color complexion. Do you have fair skin and burn easily? If that’s the case, you are more likely to see signs of aging than someone with darker skin who tans well. Genetics are capable of telling us a lot about our bodies. Do your parents or grandparents have sun damage? Did they take preventative measures? Your skin may be comparable to theirs.
Now that you’re sighing in resignation that laying out is a bad idea, or perhaps you’re beating yourself up for those reckless teenage years of baby oil and tin foil, the first step in addressing sun damage is to prevent any more. Here’s how:
1. Neutralize UV rays, protect skin from additional assault and help reverse existing damage.
RawSkinCeutical’s RegenceC Serum is an oil based serum for easy absorption, rich in naturally occurring vitamin C from their unique herbals complex, which includes chrysanthemum, helichrysum flowers, orange peel, rosehips, eyebright, acerola cherry, cleavers, and l-ascorbic acid. Studies have shown vitamin C applied topically can limit UV damage due to it’s high antioxidant activity, reducing UV induced DNA damage and inflammation and increases cell survival following UV exposure.
Blissoma’s Amend Solar Repair Anti-Aging Serum is a lovely, low scent, easily absorbed, non-oily serum that includes a unique type of potent pomegranate extract that has been clinically verified to reduce UV ray related cell death and free radicals generated in exposed skin.
In addition to protecting skin from further damage, both products will also go to work to help repair the damage that’s already been done. For the best protection, wear your vitamin C and/or pomegranate products under your sunscreen during the day.
2. Shield skin from damaging UV rays with a healthy, natural sunscreen, every day, all year long.
For those seeking a higher SPF but who don’t want to know they’re wearing sunscreen or tend toward oily skin, COOLA Suncare makes an incredibly lightweight, matte finish mineral sunscreen, tinted or untinted.
Those with normal to dry skin seeking SPF 30 along with sheer, tinted coverage, added moisture and a multi-tasking formula should try Suntegrity’s Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen SPF 30, which can also be called a BB cream. This luxurious formula leaves skin well hydrated with a dewy finish and features a variety of healing and protective antioxidants, including green tea and pomegranate extracts, among others. Available in five shades to work with any skin tone, it’s also available in a clear, untinted formula.
Both formulas do double duty, providing chemical free, non-nano, mineral UV protection via zinc and/or titanium dioxide, they all run in well when used appropriately without leaving a tell-tale white film (or you looking like a mime).
Don’t forget the body! Perfect for sensitive skin and those prone to breakouts, Devita’s Solar Body Moisturizer SPF 30 hits the sweet spot between body lotion and sunscreen. The light formula acts as a moisturizer and provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection without leaving you feeling oily or greasy. Perfect for daily use to protect skin during sporadic exposure (think about that arm hanging out your window while driving) when you don’t plan to spend hours and hours in direct sunlight sweating or playing in the water.
For those who live an active lifestyle (or have kids that do) All Terrain’s TerraSport SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray is the end to your excuse not to wear sunscreen. This highly rated, very water resistant formula is proven effective after 80 minutes in water and it’s easy to apply, non-whitening, non-greasy, non eye stinging, fragrance-free finish leaves you with no excuse not to use it. Also available in an uber water proof formula called AquaSport.
Just remember, in all cases, for face and for body, no matter how water resistant the formula: reapply, reapply, reapply.
3. Protect from the inside out
Studies indicate that ingesting green tea can help protect skin from UV damage because of its powerful antioxidant, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a potent type of catechin. EGCG neutralizes free radicals, which reduces their ability to wreck the type of havoc that causes inflammation and wrinkles. A study out of Cambridge in 2013 found that oral green tea metabolites are incorporated into human skin and offer protection against UV related inflammation. The Journal of Nutrition reported in 2011 that women who consumed a drink with green tea polyphenols for 12 weeks saw improvements in skin elasticity, roughness, scaling and moisture content.
Not a fan of drinking endless mugs of green tea to get a sufficient dose? Sneak some edible green tea into your daily smoothie or pop some Green Tea Extract in capsule form for a concentrated dose.
Our last word? Take your mother’s advice and don’t skip the sunscreen. Tune in as we address a variety of other skin agers and what you can to do help prevent them and turn back the hands of time. #stopskinaging
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top image: monimix, product images via brands