How to Reverse Sun Damage (And What to Do If It’s Too Late for Prevention)

Summer is gone, but your sunspots are here to stay.

Sun damage is no joke. In fact, UV exposure causes up to 90% of premature aging.  And to add insult to injury, the sun WILL come out tomorrow, and every day thereafter.

By now you’re probably wondering how to reverse sun damage signs and keep any unnecessary wrinkles at bay. The good news is that you really can heal sun-damaged skin.

Keep reading to learn more about how to get rid of sun damage.

How to Reverse Sun Damage Signs

In order to reverse sun damage, you have to know what you’re looking for first. Some of the signs of sun-damaged skin are as follows:

  • Wrinkles
  • Freckles
  • Age spots
  • Spider veins
  • Loose skin
  • Rough/Scaley patches of skin
  • A blotchy complexion

These signs are referred to in the medical community as “photoaging”, and as the damage builds up they can turn into deep lines. They can also turn into actinic keratoses (AK), which is a pre-cancerous skin growth that presents itself as dry, scaly patches.

Not all of the signs listed above are reversible. Sun damage is cumulative, and so the damage caused by years of sun exposure with little to no protection can result in irreparably damaged skin cells. Of course, if you’re noticing signs of premature aging, there’s plenty of hope.

It should also be said that just because you don’t see any damage yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t there, lurking beneath the layers of your skin. It’s never too early to take on a sun-damaged skincare regimen. So don’t wait around for wrinkles and dark spots to appear—start now.

Here’s how to reverse the sun damage:

Wear Sunscreen—All Year Round

Offense is the best defense, especially when it comes to the sun. The sun is out 365 days, give or take. This means that damage doesn’t only happen when you’re laying pool or beachside. Those UV rays get to you while you’re walking around, driving, exercising, etc.

Let’s just put it this way, if you can see the sun, it can see you.

Sunscreen is your first line of defense. The second being protective clothing. Studies show that people who use a sunscreen of 15 SPF or higher each day show 24 percent fewer signs of aging than those who do not.

The sun is at its strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM, so these are the hours to limit your exposure and apply an SPF.

Hop on the Vitamin A Train

Of course, all vitamins are important but Vitamin A—retinol—is the golden standard in sun-damaged skincare.

Retinol promotes cell turnover and increases collagen production. Both of these things are necessary for healing damaged skin. Retinol also helps to fade dark spots, correct tone, smooth out texture and even out pigmentation. It’s also well known for diminishing fine lines and wrinkles.

You can get a decent retinol cream over the counter or you can go to your dermatologist for a concentration prescription. If you’ve never used a retinol cream before, start out by applying it twice a week at night. Once your skin adjusts, you can apply it more often.

Retinol does have its downsides, however. It can cause redness or irritation on sensitive skin. It also breaks down under UV light, which means you must apply sunscreen on top of it.

Heal From the Inside

You are what you eat. And while applying topical vitamin C and antioxidants go a long way in skincare, they don’t go far enough.

There are plenty of nutritious foods out there that not only heal and repair sun-damaged skin cells but can also lend some UV light protection. A high intake of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, fish, and whole grains fortify your skin against damage. It also strengthens the immune system, which is crucial in the process of repairing and discarding damaged cells.

If this is sounding like the “Mediterranean diet”, that’s because it is—and for good reason. The diet is said to reduce the risk of melanoma by half. Not to mention that countries in the sun-soaked Mediterranean such as Greece, Italy, and Spain have much lower rates of skin cancer than the US.

So don’t just apply your food to your skin—eat it. And drink plenty of water!

Try Lasers and Light Therapy

Laser therapy is an aggressive and effective treatment for sun damage.

There are different types of laser therapy. There are lasers that specifically target pigmentation and dark spots, lasers that target tiny broken capillaries, and there are lasers that induce controlled—and painless—injuries to the skin.

Inducing delicate injuries to the skin is something that promotes collagen production and cell growth by jump-starting the healing mechanisms within the skin.

Light therapy, as in LED light works great for anti-aging as well as acne. Red infrared light can penetrate different depths of your skin and stimulate cellular activity, which includes the fibroblasts that produce collagen. This helps to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, as well as treat sun damage. It also helps to plump up the skin.

Of course, you should consult a dermatologist to figure out which method is best suited for you.

Sun-Produced Freckles Aren’t Cute

Now that you know how to reverse sun damage, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t protect and take care of your skin. As we mentioned before, you shouldn’t wait until you discover your first wrinkle or dark spot to start playing offense with your skincare routine.

And, while it’s true that we need a daily dose of vitamin D from the sun, keep it au naturale and forego the tanning beds. Seriously. If you’re noticing any of the more extreme signs of sun damage, see a doctor immediately.

If you need some help getting rid of sun damage or would like to inquire about other services, get in touch with us. We can take care of more than just wrinkles and dark spots.