We are well into the sweet summer season, which means we’ve likely spent plenty of time outdoors soaking up the sun.
If you’re new here, welcome! And, remember to always wear sunscreen!
When we’re careless with sun protection, our skin incurs sun damage. This shows up in the form of dark spots, wrinkles, and the classic sunburn. And it doesn’t just happen when we’re lounging poolside.
Which means it occurs when you’re just doing regular things like running errands or walking from your car into work, not lying out intentionally trying to get a tan. This is why daily SPF is so important!
How Sun Damage Is Caused
Skin damage occurs from overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays put out by the sun and tanning beds. When UV rays are absorbed into your skin, they can cause damage to the DNA of your skin’s cells.
A study published in the medical journal, Clinical, Cosmetic And Investigational Dermatology of almost 300 women – both sunbathers and sun-shy – found that UV rays were responsible for 80.3% of skin’s aging including wrinkles and skin texture.
There are 3 different types of these UV rays:
• UVC – These rays contain the most energy, but they don’t make it through the ozone layer to reach Earth’s surface.
• UVB – These are absorbed into the first layer of skin, the epidermis, and are responsible for sunburns and most skin cancers. A good way to remember this is to pretend the “B” in UVB stands for “burn.”
• UVA – Although these rays carry the least energy, they penetrate into the deeper layer of skin, the dermis. These rays cause the most long-term damage and aging in the form of wrinkles and sunspots. You could call these “UVAging rays.”
The bad news? It starts early.
One of the biggest issues with sun damage is that it’s cumulative which means that it happens over time starting when we’re young. That means that all those times when you whined about having sunblock put on your face as a kid or balked at SPF as a teenager in favor of a golden tan builds over time, and their results can show up later in our lives.
As Professor Mark Birch, Machin, Professor of Molecular Dermatology at the University of Newcastle explains:
When the sunburn fades, the damage remains. When you go in the sun, you are building a tower of DNA damage within your skin, and the more UV exposure you have, the higher the tower will be.
He goes onto explain that when the rate at which damage occurs overwhelms the rate at which repair can occur, you put yourself at risk for damage, signs of aging, and even skin cancer.
As a mom of two little beach babies, I understand the importance of making sure our kids are slathered with sunblock, and it’s something I’ll continue to teach them as they get older too!
What if I already have sun damage? Is it possible to reverse the effects with vitamins?
Since UV rays zap a lot of your skin’s nutrients, many people often ask if taking vitamin supplements can actually reverse the ravages of sun exposure.
While there are many supplements that claim to offer skin health, dermatologists agree that the best way to get your skin-boosting vitamins is through a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. I never support or recommend the use of supplements. Until they’re regulated by the FDA, I say stick to healthy foods so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body!
Vitamins may not completely reverse sun damage, but eating foods that are high in vitamins and antioxidants will help fight signs of aging and support skin’s health and ability to repair itself. Bonus, you’ll feel better and have more energy!
There’s also no current evidence that supports that oral supplements reverse sun damage or offer UV protection. And, they’re certainly no replacement for SPF or seeking shade!
A healthy diet of yummy, good-for-you foods will give your skin the vitamins it needs to repair and glow! Let’s take a look at some of these superfoods and what they can do to nourish your beautiful skin.
Vitamin-rich Foods for Healthy Skin
Vitamin B Foods: Dark-green leafy vegetables, oily fish, oats, chicken, egg yolks, avocado, and bananas.
The Vitamin B complex helps your skin tissue rebuild and repair. Specifically, B3 improves and maintains skin’s moisture. More importantly, a B vitamin deficiency can show up in the form of dry or excessively oily skin, cracked lips, weak nails, wrinkles, eczema, and dandruff. B12 also helps regulate and minimize hyperpigmentation, or dark spots.
B vitamins are water soluble, which means any extra will be excreted from your body, but that also means our bodies don’t retain them as well as some other vitamins, so make sure you’re eating your vitamin B!
Vitamin C Foods: Citrus fruits, red and green bell peppers, cherries, papaya, strawberries, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dark-green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, kiwi, mango and beans.
Vitamin C encourages and increases the production of collagen in the skin. It’s also the most common antioxidant naturally found in our skin, and the sun can really zap it. According to Karen E. Burke, MD, “Even minimal UV exposure can decrease the vitamin C levels in the skin by 30%, while exposure from the ozone of city pollution can decrease the level by 55%.”
UV exposure can cause the presence of free radicals which interfere with collagen production and speed up the aging process. When our collagen breaks down, our skin loses elasticity and this is how wrinkles start forming. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant to protect against this damage. Grab yourself a fruit salad and know you’re doing your skin some good!
Vitamin E Foods: Vegetable oils, oats, nuts and seeds, grains, dairy products, avocado, blackberries, and spinach.
Vitamin E is another antioxidant-rich element that battles the effects of free radicals and protects your cell membranes against damage. It helps reduce sun damage and counteract premature aging by preventing wrinkles and improving the texture of your skin. That’s right, now we can justify your guacamole weakness as “taking care of your skin” (as if we needed an excuse).
Feed Your Skin From the Outside
To get the most from your vitamins, use vitamin-rich products so your skin is nourished from both the inside and outside. The antioxidant power of Vitamins C and E are even more potent when applied topically to skin.
This is especially true of forms of Vitamin A, also known as Retinol, which is effective in rebuilding collagen to fight wrinkles and fade dark spots caused by sun damage.
So start smoothing on some goodness that will feed your skin and fight signs of sun damage! Here are some of my favorites.
Alana Mitchell Daily Vitamin C Moisturizer
I’m so excited to share my amazing moisturizer with you! It harnesses the mighty power of Vitamin C to fight free radical damage and reduce the signs of aging by encouraging collagen production. It also includes hyaluronic acid to bind moisture to skin to deliver ultra-hydration and plump tired skin. So long, fine lines and wrinkles!
Rhonda Allison Antioxidant Complex Serum
This silky serum packs a powerful antioxidant punch to diminish fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots. It also firms and hydrates skin, so it looks smoother and more youthful making it particularly beneficial for aging skin!
Dermaquest Retinol Peptide Youth Serum
Remember good ol’ Vitamin A? Its power is utilized in this serum in the form of Retinol, which reduces wrinkles and improves skin’s elasticity. But wait, there’s more! This serum also encourages skin cell production and repair, tones skin, calms inflammation, removes free radicals and brightens skin. That’s a lot of goodness in one formula!
Dermalogica MultiVitamin Thermafoliant
First of all, this delightful cleanser infuses skin with a vitamins and antioxidants to brighten skin and protect against free radicals and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. But then, it delivers gentle exfoliation to slough away dead skin cells and warms up while you scrub! It’s like a blanket for your face that leaves your skin glowing and nourished.
Image Skincare Prevention+ Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30
Of course, the best way to prevent sun damage is to wear your daily SPF, and this is one of my faves! Since it’s tinted it gives your face some light coverage to even out skin tone while it moisturizes and provides UVA/UVB protection. Plus, it’s packed with skin-boosting vitamins and antioxidants to repair and nourish skin. Make this SPF moisturizer part of your morning routine!
Coola Mineral Sport SPF30 Citrus Mimosa
This allover sunblock is a mineral or physical sunscreen (which I always reach for) rather than a chemical one, so it uses zinc and titanium dioxide to provide UVA/UVB protection. It also means it’s less irritating for those with sensitive skin. Plus, it’s non-greasy and won’t leave any white residue on skin, and it smells amazing!
While vitamin supplements won’t magically turn back the hands of time on sun damage, making sure you’re getting your daily dose of vitamins through a healthy diet is definitely important for skin health.
Eating nutrient-rich foods, drinking plenty of water and practicing a good skincare routine are always going to be your best bet for taking care of your skin.
And remember to wear your SPF! This is the best way for us to protect against the sun and prevent future premature aging or damage. Love yourself and take care of the skin you’re in everyday!
Have you discovered any tips or tricks for treating sun damaged skin? Share them with us in the comments!