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Sun Exposure and Aging Skin

woman applying face mask

Your skin goes through many changes over the years. But while you might blame a sagging jawline and wrinkles on age, about 90 per cent of visible changes to the skin are actually due to sun exposure. Here’s what you should know.


How the sun affects your skin

There are three layers to your skin, namely:


  • The epidermis. This outermost layer consists of flat skin cells and melanocytes, which are the cells that produce melanin and give your skin its colour.


  • The dermis. This middle layer is composed in part of collagen and elastin proteins, which give young skin its smooth appearance and elasticity.


  • The subcutis. The deepest layer is made of adipose tissue, which provides physical protection and insulation for your body.


The sun affects the top two layers, and the most immediate change you’ll experience is the darkening of your skin. A suntan occurs when the epidermis produces more melanin in an attempt to protect the deeper layers of skin. Nonetheless, some types of UV rays can penetrate the dermis, damaging collagen fibres and causing the skin to produce abnormal elastin.


This damage to the dermis layer of your skin prompts the creation of certain enzymes meant to rebuild damaged collagen. However, these enzymes often malfunction and can instead degrade the collagen. This is what causes wrinkles, sunspots and other symptoms usually associated with aging.


How to prevent sun damage

Since most signs of aging are associated with sun exposure, it’s easy to keep your skin looking young and supple. Here’s how:


  • Avoid the sun. Stay in the shade as much as possible, especially between 10 m. and 3 p.m. when UV rays are strongest.


  • Always wear sunscreen. Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to any exposed skin before going outside. While this is especially important on hot, sunny days, remember that UV rays can penetrate your skin even on cold and cloudy days.


  • Cover up. If you’re going to spend time outdoors, opt for loose fitting clothes that cover most of your skin and wear a wide-brimmed hat.


Visit a medical spa to learn more

If the sun has already taken a toll on your skin, it’s not too late to reverse the effects. Visit a Canadian Beauty College medi-spa clinic to speak with a medical esthetics professional or student about the benefits of various skin treatments. Call us today to schedule an appointment or learn about our cosmetology programs.

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