Hyperpigmentation, fine lines, skin laxity, uneven texture, dullness, and dryness — these are just a few of the visible effects of sun damage. More specifically, of cellular damage brought on by UVA rays generated by the sun. UVA (and UVB) radiation causes free radicals to form in the body. Free radicals are oxygen atoms with only one electron (normally, each atom has a pair of electrons). In a quest to stabilize itself, this renegade oxygen atom will steal an electron from another unsuspecting oxygen atom, turning that one into a free radical. This domino effect continues throughout the body leading, ultimately, to a breakdown in cellular DNA and weakened skin cells. And all the visible external changes noted above.
How do you repair sun damage?
To reverse the effects of a decrease in collagen, such as wrinkles and sagging, you need to up the amount of collagen in your skin. Vitamin C is an excellent place to start as it’s been shown to increase the amount of collagen the body produces, as well as assist the enzymes that stabilize collagen molecules.
If your sun damage is manifesting as dark spots or dullness, vitamin C can address those too, since it helps decrease excess melanin. And since sun-damaged skin is often dehydrated skin, you’ll be glad to know that vitamin C can improve skin’s barrier function, helping it hold onto moisture more effectively. Applying a serum loaded with vitamin C, such as Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic 15% Vitamin C Firm & Bright Serum, every morning (and again at night, if you’re so inclined) will go a long way toward reversing any sun sins of the past.
How to Prevent Sun Damage
Once you’ve begun to remedy the impact of old mistakes, you don’t want to go backward by creating more problems you need to fix. Therefore, warding off future sun damage is essential. You can do that by applying a mineral sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 every morning before you step out the door and reapplying it after prolonged periods of activity or time outside. (Obviously, we think the best block for the job is Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30.)
The vitamin C serum you’re smoothing on to reverse the signs of existing sun damage has an added benefit in terms of preventing its future formation. Vitamin C is a super powerful antioxidant (did you think we’d forget to mention that?) helping quash free radicals that get past your sunscreen, so they don’t have an opportunity to make mischief in your skin cells.