We get plenty of sun in this part of the world, but just because you’re not outdoors all the time doesn’t mean you don’t need to protect your skin from the sun. Even if Asians generally prefer to stay lily-white all year round, they aren’t covering up as much as they should be.
Experts say that sun damage takes years to start showing on the skin depending on your lifestyle habits, so if you’re a sun worshipper every time you’re on holiday or even if you think applying sunscreen only if you’re out and about during the day is adequate, chances are high that your skin will show tell-tale signs earlier.
Freckles and hyperpigmentation.
Sun damage can start to show on the skin in our 20s. While you’re having fun in the sun, your skin will attempt to protect itself from the sun’s effects by increasing its production of melanin, which will make you look more tanned. So yes, while you look like a bronze, freckled goddess, your skin’s definitely not thanking you.
There is a chance that the increase of melanin production can result in hyperpigmentation on the skin, which looks darker, patchy and irregular. If you tend to suffer from a red appearance from that sun, that’s another added effect – a permanent stretching of small blood vessels in the skin. Even if you have naturally darker skin, you are still at risk of freckles and pigmentation showing up.
Freaking out about tiny little lines appearing on your face? Yes, that’s an effect of sun damage. You’ll notice it the most if you’re applying foundation or concealer and it creases under your eyes or around your nose and mouth after a couple of hours of it settling in. If lines tell a story of character, it’s saying that you should probably love the sun a little less.
These can show up as early as when you are in your 30s and turn a dark brown when you are in your 40s and 50s. Also known as liver spots, they can look like large freckles and usually appear on the areas which are most exposed to the sun such as the face, hands, arms and upper back. If they change in texture, surface level and in colour, you will need to consult a doctor.
Slap on the sunscreen.
You heard it before, you need sunscreen. Statistically, we don’t apply enough to prevent sun damage. According to plastic and reconstructive surgeon and skin cancer expert Dr Marko Lens, “It’s been suggested that we receive about 80% of our lifetime ultraviolet (UV) dose by the age of 18 but this isn’t true. Sun damage is cumulative. According to research, we get about 10% more sun damage every decade after the age of 18, 47% at ages 19-40, 74% at 41-59 and 100% while in the age group 60-78. The best way to deal with it is to protect the skin and stop tanning. Regular use of sunscreen SPF 30 is essential every morning. I also recommend the use of topical antioxidant to reduce formation of hazardous free radicals.”
And don’t think it’s enough to apply it when you’re out for hours in the sin. Daily application of sunscreen even while indoors may lower the long-term risk of skin cancer and if you can resist, try reducing your daily sun exposure. Sunscreen allows time for your skin and immune system to heal and repair.
Don’t forget your vitamins.
Yet another pill to pop on top of all those other supplements, but it’s an important one. Taking an omega-3 supplement helps, according to Dr Terry Loong, an integrative cosmetic and skin doctor.
“Younger skin cells also turn over or repair quicker, so the damage may not be seen straight away. The accumulation of sun damage will lead to changes in the cells’ DNA, resulting in brown spots or age spots, premature wrinkles, rough skin texture or even skin cancer, which normally starts to show from your 30s. This is why it is so important to protect the skin from UV rays both inside out. Applying sunscreen during the day and taking supplements including omega-3 will help optimise the skin’s repair. Omega-3 has been proven to reduce the risk of sun damage by 50%.”
Fade it with hydroquinone.
Fret not if you are starting to spot some splotches. New York City dermatologist Dendy Engelman recommends using products containing hydroquinone to help fade brown spots or a product with retinol to encourage quicker cell turnover and keep your skin looking fresh and new as it minimises the appearance of pores and freckles.
Hydrate inside and out.
Guzzle that water and ensure you use a moisturiser on skin to keep it hydrated. But if your skin feels drier than the Sahara even with moisturiser, look into the products you are using. Avoid using powders since they absorb oil and moisture.
A foundation that is cream-based or CC cream will help, and to minimise lines, apply a primer beforehand to create a smooth surface and prevent makeup from settling into your face. Spending plenty of time outdoors in the sun, at the pool or the beach can dry out your skin so don’t forget body moisturiser underneath your sunscreen.
Try a light-emitting diode (LED) treatment.
Zap it away if you can. Some skin clinics offer light-emitting diode (LED) treatments, using electronic light sources to gently renew skin and reduce the size of pores and reduce lines, pigmentation and other signs of ageing. The lights activate new collagen formation while reducing the breakdown of existing collagen.
This article is an excerpt from UNRESERVED’s July/August 2019 issue from the article SOAK UP THE SUN.