No matter who we are, where we live or what we do for a living, there is something we all have in common: we all live under the same sun. Our big beautiful sun warms us up, helps us make vitamin D, and puts us in a good mood. It also causes sun damage in the form of brown spots, broken vessels, premature aging and skin cancers. There are ways to get the good and avoid the bad though, so let’s go through some things that will help.
Sun prevention doesn’t mean staying inside and avoiding the sun at all times. It means taking precautions when outside or exposed to the sun (like wearing a seatbelt while driving). The proper use of sunscreen is always the first consideration. Using an appropriate amount of sunscreen and remembering to reapply during the day is key. Sunscreen should be at least an SPF of 30 or more, be UVA/UVB protectant (or “Broad Spectrum”) and be hydrating for dry skin, oil free for oily skin. For dark skin types, I find the oil free sunscreens are lighter and go on more natural looking.
The strongest sun is midday, so if at all possible, try to make outdoor activities in the morning or later in the day (e.g. before 10am, and after 4pm). Sunburns can cause eventual permanent damage to the skin, so avoiding the time where sun is the strongest is a safer choice.
Sunglasses don’t just make us look cool, but protect the delicate skin around our eyes. Wearing a hat is a smart inclusion to your wardrobe. The bigger the brim, the better, and the more area the brim covers, the better the protection (nose & tops of ears are common for skin cancer and not protected by a baseball cap). It is possible to find clothing with UV protection (called “UPF”), although covering up in general is a plus if you are going to be outside for a long period of time.
I think it goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: avoid tanning beds. Don’t be fooled by tanning salons saying their beds are safer than the sun. It is simply not true. And for those that believe it is true, they feel safe enough to go over and over again, therefore increasing the damage they are inflicting on their skin. Remember: the sun doesn’t just cause freckling, it is the number one reason our skin ages and #1 cause for skin cancer! It affects us more than smoking, or drinking. It is called photo damage, and tanning beds are one of the worst abusers.
Finally, for those wishing to start reversing the damage that has already been done, there are many options available. One of the easiest ways to alleviate brown spots and dead skin cells is with chemical peels. There are multiple types and some only peel microscopically, therefore no down time is required. For skin with more sun damage, some of our stronger medical-grade chemical peels are a better option.
IPL (Intense Pulse Light) or BBL (Broad Band Light), photo facial and/or some lasers will not only help to alleviate brown spots on the skin, but will aid in stimulating new collagen to form and help smooth out the skin. Lasers & light-based devices will reduce broken vessels aggravated by the sun and give a nicer more neutral overall tone to the skin.
Once fine lines have formed on the forehead or around the eyes (“dynamic wrinkles”), the use of Botox can easily help to smooth the skin without downtime. It can be done at lunchtime and you can be back to work right afterwards. Botox takes a few days to kick in, and it is subtle and natural looking when performed by our physicians here at TDC. Botox is a purified protein and very safe with over 20 years on the market and millions of people treated all over the world (by far the most popular cosmetic procedure). There is no quicker way to reverse the signs of aging.
Of course prevention is better than correction. If you haven’t done so already, be proactive and start protecting the only skin you will ever have. If the damage has already been done, call us at TDC for a complimentary consult and let us help get you on track to healthier skin.
~ Sheri Roselle, Medical Esthetician at Toronto Dermatology Centre