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Protecting Skin From Sun Damage

Protecting Skin From Sun Damage

It takes a lot more than applying (and reapplying) sunscreen to protect yourself from sun damage—here’s how.

1. What are the dangers of sun damage?

2. How do you prevent sun damage?

    a. The best sunscreen for sensitive skin
    b. The best sunscreen for sweaty skin
    c. The best sunscreen for oily skin
    d. Sun-care strategies beyond sunscreen

3. How can you take care of your sun-damaged skin?


As a society, we’re more aware of layering on sunscreen in the summer, when the days are longer and temperatures rise, but it’s important to remember that sun care is actually a year-round necessity. Rain or shine, summer or winter, sunscreen should be worn daily because ultraviolet (UV) rays, which cause premature skin aging and skin cancer, don’t take any days off.

Understanding the basics about sun exposure and how it harms your skin is an important first step in learning how to safeguard yourself against sun damage.

1. What are the dangers of sun damage?

The exposome aggressors that threaten your skin consist of external and internal factors that affect you from conception to death—and sun exposure is the biggest threat. If you don’t already have a sunscreen step in your daily skincare regimen, this scary statement from the Skin Cancer Foundation might have you adding one: More than 90% of the visible skin changes associated with aging are caused by the sun’s UV rays.

UV rays, from either the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds, can cause sunburn, premature aging (wrinkles, dull skin and hyperpigmentation) and skin cancer. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Canada. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, with squamous cell carcinoma being the second most common.

2. How do you prevent sun damage ?

Dr. Nour Dayeh

While skin cancer is certainly the most serious reason to never skimp on SPF, long-term effects from UV rays also include premature skin aging. Sunscreen is the most effective form of protection from the sun’s damaging rays, but so many of us still don’t wear it. According to Statistics Canada, only 45% of adults wear sunscreen on their faces and 38% report applying it to their bodies.

While sunscreen is probably top of mind for you when the weather heats up, it’s actually good practice to wear it year-round. “The best sunscreen is the one you are going to wear,” says Dr. Nour Dayeh, Medical development expert for Vichy Laboratoires, Canada. If you’ve been resistant to sunscreens because you haven’t found a formula you like, a good place to start is Vichy’s sun care collection, which caters to dry skin, oily skin and sensitive skin types and provides clinically proven UV protection.

a. The best sunscreen for sensitive skin

If you have sensitive skin, you’re in a tricky situation: You’re all too familiar with itchy, bumpy skin after sun exposure but you’re weary about what’s in your sunscreen. For people with highly sensitive skin, dermatologists recommend using sunscreens with physical (mineral) filters because they tend to be less irritating. “Physical sunscreens typically contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or a combination of both for UVA and UVB protection,” says Dayeh.

The best mineral sunscreen is one that’s free of parabens and fragrance, both of which can be irritating to sensitive skin. Vichy Ultra-Fluid Mineral Tinted Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60 is free of both those things; plus, it’s lightweight and tinted so it’s ideal for layering under makeup.

b. The best sunscreen for sweaty skin

If you plan on going for a long run or a bike ride with friends, you’ll probably be spending hours outside working up a sweat. Having an effective sunscreen for sports and outdoor activities is essential. Vichy Idéal Sport Ultra-Light Refreshing Lotion SPF 60 features broad-spectrum protection along with a formula that absorbs sweat for longer-lasting protection. The lightweight formula rubs in easily on both wet and dry skin and uses Vichy’s Mexoryl technology—the sunscreen filter most recommended by Canadian dermatologists.

c. The best sunscreen for oily skin

While lots of today’s sunscreens feel less thick and greasy than their predecessors, choosing one can still be stressful if you have oily or acne-prone skin. However, Vichy Idéal Soleil Dry Touch Body SPF 50+ is the perfect sunscreen for oily skin because it protects the skin from the sun’s rays while minimizing oil. The formula gets quickly absorbed by the skin and is water-resistant, non-shiny and non-sticky.

d. Sun-care strategies beyond sunscreen

A sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) that offers broad-spectrum protection should be your first line of defence, but it’s not the only means of defence. Here are several other safe and effective ways to prevent sun exposure.

  • Harmful UV rays are strongest at midday, so the Canadian Dermatology Association recommends staying out of direct sun between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Wear protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Purchase Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) sun-protective clothing. These garments are made from fabrics rated for their level of ultraviolet protection.
  • Keep tabs on the (UV) Index; when it’s 3 or higher, protect your skin as much as possible.

3. How do you take care of your sun-damaged skin?

The number one thing you can do to prevent sun damage is to wear SPF, daily, but can sunscreen reverse sun damage? In short, no. However, once the results of too much sun begin to surface on your face, there are a few things you can do to help fend off its effects. But before you look for treatments to help heal your sun-damaged skin, you need to identify the common signs of sun damage.

Sign of sun damage: Sunburns are an inflammatory reaction caused by an overexposure to UVB rays, leaving skin red, hot and painful to the touch.
Treatment: Prompt treatment is key. As soon as you notice that your skin is sunburned, avoid any further sun exposure and take an anti-inflammatory like Advil or Motrin. Drink lots of water because burns draw fluids to the surface of the skin, making it dry.
Apply an after-sun product, like Vichy Idéal Soleil After Sun SOS Balm. It has a rich and comforting texture that helps speed up the skin’s recovery process while boosting your skin hydration.

Sign of sun damage: Dark spots or patches, also known as hyperpigmentation, are caused by sun exposure, which triggers melanin production.
Treatment: L-Ascorbic acid (a.k.a. vitamin C) lightens pigmentation while also inhibiting an enzyme (tyrosinase) that prevents melanin production. Studies have also shown that using a vitamin C serum before applying sunscreen further protects the skin from photodamage caused by UV rays.

Sign of sun damage: Fine lines and deep wrinkles crop up because UV radiation causes collagen to break down at a higher rate than normal.
Treatment: Both peptides and vitamin C are effective ingredients for boosting collagen and softening wrinkles. But the gold standard for treating fine lines and wrinkles is with retinol, which is pure vitamin A. It’s a hard-working ingredient that revs up collagen synthesis for smoother skin, normalizes cell turnover and balances pigment production. But unlike vitamin C, retinol increases photosensitivity. This means that you need to be sure to always wear sunscreen on top of your retinol cream or apply it in the evening.


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