We’ve all come back from our relaxing, hot summer holidays with a gigantic thud; kids are back to school, work is as full-on as usual and just as you manage to catch a glimpse of yourself whilst running out the front door, you see it…
Yes, I’m talking about age spots (hyperpigmentation, sun damage or sun spots, whichever name you’d prefer to call them). I know what you’re thinking: “surely, I’m not old enough to have age spots?!” and “what about all the sun cream I religiously apply on holiday?”. Unfortunately, sun-induced pigmentation doesn’t care about our age. It can show itself at any time. In fact, the freckles we so often see dotted across children’s cheeks and noses are sun-induced pigmentation. You never see a new-born baby with freckles because they’ve never been exposed to the sun.
Much of our sun damage is cumulative and happens on a daily basis, all year round. This is called accidental exposure; sun damage doesn’t seem so outrageous when you consider all of those times in your life when you went outside without sun cream on, does it? There will also be multiple times in our childhood and teenage years when we (and our parents) didn’t know how important it was for us to wear a high factor SPF sun cream and frequently reapply it. Not forgetting any occasions that you may have used sunbeds. Think of your sunspots as your skin’s memory of treasured days outdoors and glorious holidays to far off, exotic places.
So, how does the sun damage my skin?
The sun gives off UV radiation in the form of two different rays, UVA and UVB. When the UV rays hit your skin, it’s DNA is damaged. Your skin cells react to this damage by producing melanin in an attempt to prevent any further damage. Melanin is what gives you a tan and is a sign that sun damage has already occurred.
Hyperpigmentation (aka sunspots) is caused by an excess production of melanin; this is usually stimulated by either the suns UV rays, trauma or hormones (the latter two are not sun damage). UVB rays are the rays that are mainly responsible for sunburn. UVA rays are responsible for accelerated skin ageing (also known as photoaging). The UVA rays infiltrate deep into the living part of your skin where they damage your collagen and elastin resulting in loose, wrinkled, crepy, sometimes ‘leathery’ skin.
Don’t beat yourself up about it, there’s nothing you can do to go back in time and change what’s happened in the past; the damage is done. Quite literally. Luckily there are a number of things you can do to at home and in-clinic to target, reverse and prevent this damage from worsening.
If you only do one thing, it should be to wear sun cream 365 days of the year. The British Association of Dermatologists recommend using a minimum SPF of 30; consider using a 50SPF for children and those with fair skin. At Skin to Love we’d recommend using a physical sunblock to reflect the UV rays; look for ingredients such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Probably our favourite sun protection is Revision Skincare Intellishade TruPhysical as it has an SPF45, anti-ageing properties plus a unique blend of antioxidants.
2. Talking of antioxidants….
These help your skin to fight free radicals. Free radicals from the environment damage your skin cells leading to aged skin; think pollution and UV rays. Again, one of our favourites is Revision Skincare Intellishade TruPhysical because it makes life so easy being a combination of a high physical SPF, anti-ageing moisturiser and antioxidants. We also like Medik8 C-Tetra Intense a serum which includes the protective antioxidants Vitamin E and a lipid-soluble form of vitamin C called Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, alongside deeply hydrating, nourishing, and brightening ingredients; Squalane, Omega-6 essential fatty acid, optimised Red Genseng and Maracuja oil.
3. Fraxel Dual
A safe and effective fractional laser which penetrates your skin in microscopic laser zones to treat your skin’s signs of sun damage. The Fraxel Dual can target both hyperpigmentations caused by sun damage as well as signs of ageing skin, such as lines and wrinkles. This laser is going to go deeper than creams can go. The result? Faded pigmentation, smoothed wrinkles and scarring, and a brighter, more radiant skin. The Fraxel lasers safety and effectiveness is so renowned, patients often come into the Clinic asking specifically for Fraxel treatment.
Guided by your own pulse, this revolutionary cold laser re-energises and repairs your skin cells, damaged collagen and elastin to preserve and reinvigorate a youthful appearance.
Byonik improves signs of ageing skin; reduces redness; promotes skin healing; reduces inflammation and deeply hydrates the skin from within the skin cells, not just around them, as well as giving your cells a high dose of powerful antioxidants (see point 2) which can stay inside your skin cells (not just coating the outside of the cells) for up to a month after your treatment.
Clear+Brilliant, often called the ‘baby Fraxel’, as this gentle laser is by the makers of Fraxel dual and uses the same fractional laser technology as the Fraxel laser but is less intense. It’s designed for those who would like to preserve and prevent those first signs of skin ageing and damage or for those who have less sun damage than those who would be better suited to the stronger Fraxel treatment.
Clear+Brilliant does what it says on the tin. Post-treatment your skin tone is clearer, pore size is improved, your skin texture is smoother, and your radiant glow is renewed. Oh, and let’s not forget that you’ll have stimulated your skins rejuvenation process, so those early signs of ageing are corrected and help kept at bay. What’s not to like?
At The Skin to Love Clinic, we are incredibly proud that one of our medical practitioners in the UK and European trainer for the Fraxel Dual laser and the Clear+Brilliant laser.
Going forward, what are you going to do to prevent and correct your sun damage? Remember treatment, such as the Fraxel Dual laser, can improve the sun damage already done, but it will not prevent future damage so using a high *daily* SPF sun cream is absolutely key, alongside other sun-safety measures such as wearing a wide-brimmed hat whilst outside.
We’d strongly advise avoiding sunbathing and using sunbeds so that your sun damage doesn’t become worse. Please have a read of our post if you are at all worried about your moles, especially if you’ve had lots of sun exposure. Did you know that, according to The British Skin Foundation, the most common skin cancers are not connected to moles? TBSF has put together a very insightful guide to skin cancers that are not related to moles and lets you know what to look out for. If you have any concerns about your skin health, please seek guidance from your GP and/or a dermatologist immediately.
If you want to discuss your skin concerns with one of our medical practitioners, please don’t hesitate to book a consultation.
Disclaimer: This blog is not to be used for diagnostic purposes. We are all unique which means that our results, recovery and suitability for any type of treatment will vary. Always seek the advice of a professional should you have any health or cosmetic concerns or to discuss treatments specifically for you.