I grew up in the state of Minnesota, and at some point I came to realize that my life experiences made me rather ignorant to the impact of the sun in places where blazing hot summers consume much of the calendar year. I’m accustomed to eight-month winters, and I’ve always viewed that big blindingly bright star in the sky as a blessing. But in others places, it can feel like more of a curse.
I remember my first trip to Arizona during the summer. Everything was brown. Every surface was worn away — its color and vibrant allure sapped away by a constant barrage of harsh sun rays. The primary imperative for inhabitants of this area was to find cooler cover and escape from the blazing hot assault from above.
It was a sobering reminder of just how much the sun can take a toll on the planet and its denizens even though it is located nearly 100 million miles away. And that’s a lesson that we’re wise to take to our heart when it comes to our skin.
When it comes to aging signs — wrinkles, creases, sagging, discoloration, etc. — there are several factors at play. However, none come anywhere close to the impact of the sun and its ultraviolet rays. It is estimated that at least 80 percent, and perhaps as much as 99 percent, of the visible skin deterioration we see relates directly to sun ray exposure.
How to Prevent Sun Damage to Your Skin
Photoaging, a term which refers to the premature aging of the skin caused by UV radiation, is an issue that everyone must contend with if they wish to keep wrinkles at bay. This is true whether you live in the frozen tundra of Minnesota or the scorching deserts of Arizona. With that in mind, let’s walk through the top five ways to defend your skin against the sun and its age-accelerated effects.
1. ALWAYS. WEAR. SUNSCREEN.
I know, sometimes when you’re going out on a cloudy and cool day, it can feel rather ridiculous to lather on sun block cream. But those UV rays are sneakily penetrating and they can still do their damage even through a gray sky. We recommend using an SPF 15 or higher any time you plan on being outside without shade for prolonged periods of time.
2. SPF Clothing and Accessories
Just as it can pierce through heavy cloud cover, the sun can sometimes cause issues in areas where you feel your clothing is providing ample protection. There are special textiles and garments that feature specific enhancements in this regard. Sometimes it’s also a matter of color and density. A thick dark blue t-shirt will better protect you than a thing breathable white tee, for instance.
3. Cover Your Face and Especially Your Eyes
No area of the body takes more of a beating from sun rays than our face. It’s obviously situated at the top of our body, receiving the brunt of UV exposure, and the skin here (especially around the eyes) is particularly thin and fragile. On particularly sunny days, wear a large-brimmed hat that offers shade. SPF sunglasses with big lenses are also a smart choice.
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Hot days and excessive sun deprive us of the hydration we need. We lose water through sweat and the heat itself sucks moisture from our skin. Make sure you are drinking plenty of H20, and using a daily moisturizing lotion. Dermatologists advise, in particular, that you moisturize your lips with a protective balm to keep them from becoming dry and cracked.
5. Avoid Peak Sun Hours
The fiercest period of sun radiation comes between the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Try to stay inside or under shade during this time if you can.
By strictly adhering to these five principles, you will be on your way battling photoaging and delaying those pesky effects of skin aging.