3 hot tips for protecting your skin after a day in the sun
Before we get started…a word about sunscreen.
You probably already know that the sun is public enemy #1 when it comes to aging skin. Which is why, even though this guide is focused on after-sun care, we’re reminding you to apply antioxidant rich products prior to sun exposure, seek shade whenever possible, and always wear sunscreen. Here are three tried and true sunscreen rules:
- Make sure it provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB coverage.
- Wear it everyday, even when it’s cloudy.
- Reapply every 90 minutes.
Read this Skin Care 101 refresher on how sun exposure ages your skin.
After-sun care: Your last line of defense.
Even if you’re wearing sunscreen religiously, recent studies show that sunscreen is just the beginning of an effective anti-aging skincare routine. Research shows that the cell-damaging effects of UV rays may continue long after you step inside, so what you put on your skin after a day in the sun is also important. While aloe vera-laden moisturizers and gels are effective at soothing the inflammation of sun-parched skin, there’s much more that can be done.
"UV light can continue to harm the skin and inflict
cancer-causing damage hours after exposure and even in the dark."
- Yale University Study
The good news: Antioxidants cut free radicals off at the pass, before inflammation begins.
Tip #1: Apply antioxidants after sun exposure.
And the sooner the better. Research suggests that antioxidants applied as soon as possible following sun exposure can really make a difference. Although the skin possesses an elaborate, natural antioxidant defense system, ongoing exposure to UV light can still tax your skin’s ability to fight off premature skin aging and skin cancer. Antioxidants help fortify the skin’s natural defenses and prevent free radical damage caused by the sun. Which is why every medical and skincare expert recommends a skincare routine packed with antioxidants.
"The largest contributor to skin aging is the inflammation that accompanies sun exposure. Because free radicals continue to inflame and damage skin even after sun exposure, I highly recommend that my patients apply topical antioxidants to prevent further damage. Ideally they would do this as soon as possible after sun exposure."
—Eric Alden Lewis, M.D., Dermatologist
and Cosmetic Surgeon
Tip #2: Quality matters.
Here are some of the best and most researched topical antioxidants on earth.
Reverses signs of photoaging, things like age spots and uneven darkening of the skin. Promotes collagen production—your natural sag and wrinkle fighter. Prevents moisture loss by strengthening your skin barrier.
Best sources: Stabilized Retinol or natural sources, like beta carotene.
Note: One important thing about retinol: Too much of it can overwhelm the system. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, you should avoid dosages in excess of 10,000 IU, or 3,000 retinol equivalents.
Prevents free radicals from aging your skin. Promotes collagen production—your natural sag and wrinkle fighter. Lightens skin. Maintains capillary integrity.
Best sources: l-ascorbic acid
Note: 3 things are required for Vitamin C to be effective at repairing damage and producing collagen: It must be the water-soluble form of Vitamin C—ascorbic acid—as it’s the only form that neutralizes the most prolific and damaging free radicals. It must be fresh, that is, not in liquid form. It must be in concentrations of 10% or more.
Prevents free radicals from aging your skin. Smoothes and hydrates skin by reducing epidermal moisture loss. Promotes wound healing and protects cell membranes.
Best sources: sunflower oil, broccoli seed oil, papaya seed oil, avocado oil, kiwi seed oil
Stimulates cell growth in the epidermis (the outer layer of skin) so it becomes thicker, less wrinkled, smoother and fuller. Promotes wound healing.
SOD (Super Oxide Dismutase)
Neutralizes the most damaging of the free radicals, the super oxide anion.
Addresses causes of aging at the source by protecting processes related to cell development and function.
Decreases wrinkle formation. Reduces visible signs of UV-aging.
Green & White Tea extracts
Green tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols with astringent, toning, skin-soothing, and anti-inflammatory skin benefits. White tea is an even more powerful anti-aging agent, inhibiting enzymes that attack collagen and elastase.
Tip #3: Quantity matters.
Read the ingredient label carefully. It may take a magnifying glass to see what’s included in your skincare products, but a close look is key to unlocking the mystery of what and how much is actually inside. It’s simply not enough to have some of the above-mentioned antioxidants listed on the label. Make sure that at least a few of them are listed at the very top because that means there’s a greater concentration of the free-radical fighting antioxidants you need.
And while you’ve got your magnifiers out, don’t forget to scan the label for potentially harmful ingredients. Check out Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Red List for a list of toxic and harmful ingredients to avoid.
"When shopping for other after-sun treatments, be aware that some labels only add a trace, ineffective amount of a beneficial ingredient to a product in order to tout its effects on the label, while others have a bona fide antioxidant slant."
– Wall St. Journal, A New Frontier in Sun Protection
Yale Study: Sunlight continues to damage skin in the dark.
Ferulic acid stabilizes a solution of vitamins C and E and doubles its photoprotection of skin.
The potential of omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer
The Role of Antioxidants in Skin Cancer Prevention and Treatment
More skin care questions? Please let us know if there’s a skincare topic you’d like to learn more about by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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