Save Your Skin From the Summer Sun

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Offers Tips for Preventing Sun Damage and Reversing Its Harmful Effects

While the long, sunny days of summer seem like paradise, there’s no denying that the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is damaging to the skin. According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), the accumulated effect of extreme sun exposure is harmful to a person’s health and appearance. In fact, recent studies have identified UVA radiation (specifically long range UVA in the 340 to 400 nanometer range) as the main cause in premature aging and aggressive skin cancers. The AAFPRS offers the following advice for keeping skin soft and healthy when at the beach, pool, and beyond:

  • In order to get adequate sun protection, facial plastic surgeons recommend using a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 25. To be effective, sunscreen needs to be applied 30 minutes before going outdoors, and reapplied throughout the day, especially after swimming or exercising.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally, and don’t rub it in – a film of sunscreen on the surface of your skin provides the best protection. And don’t reserve sunscreen for sunny days only – even on a cloudy day 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays will pass through clouds.
  • In addition to sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses should be a part of your regular outdoor gear. Up to 80 percent of skin cancers occur on the head and neck, so a wide brimmed hat should be worn to shade the face, ears, scalp, and neck from the sun’s UV rays.
  • Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest. If you are not sure if it’s safe, take the shadow test: no shadow…seek shade! If your shadow is shorter than you are, the damaging rays of the sun are at their strongest and you are likely to burn.
  • If exposure to the sun has left its mark (leathery skin texture, freckles or age spots), a visit to a facial plastic surgeon may be necessary. Procedures such as alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid peels, salicylic acid peels and microdermabrasion are effective ways for treating mild sun damage and rejuvenating the skin.