80% of wrinkles, lines and dark spots are avoidable. Yep you read that right, AND some dermatologists say it’s more like 90%.
I recently went to an esthetician (aka skin expert) since I felt my skin was really starting to show its age.
She told me that most of the aging on my face was sun damage and that in fact 80% of the aging that occurs on your skin is preventable.
I already wear sunblock because if I don’t, I turn into a tomato, but I learned I wasn’t doing it right. Putting it on in the morning didn’t help me when the UV peaks midday. I also just never really realized how much it all added up. For instance, walking into and out of buildings, driving in my car, working near a window.
So here I was wasting money trying to find the perfect anti-aging remedy when really all I needed to be doing was wearing and reapplying sunscreen every two hours. In fact, if you start to wear sunscreen and allow your skin to get a break from the damage caused by the sun, it will start to repair and even reverse some of the damage.
Also, not all sunblock is created equal. Some don’t even protect against UV-A rays which are the ones that cause aging. And I learned that there are alternatives to the horrible Casper glow chalky sunblock.
So, if you want to get rid of (or prevent) wrinkles, dark spots and eventual skin cancer then you’ll be interested in all the tips that I learned.
1. Use a UV app
Say what! Why did I never know this existed!?! UV rays are typically the worst between 10 am and 2 pm. However, depending on the day, these can be anywhere from low to extremely high. A UV app gives you a number that tells you how strong the UV is throughout the day. Additionally, you can set most of these apps to give you a notification when the UV is high. When you get that reminder, you can apply sunblock right away or get out of the sun.
Just after a week of using this app, I started to realize just how badly I was missing the boat on protecting my skin from the sun. My morning sunscreen was not cutting it. Without a reminder like an app, I just wasn’t aware or in the habit of thinking about midday protection from the sun.
2. Use the proper amount of sunscreen
I know, no one wants that chalky white look all
over their face. However, if you are under-applying your sunscreen then you aren’t getting the SPF coverage it says. For example, if you have an SPF of 15 and underapply it, you could be getting around SPF of 5 instead. You want to be applying sunblock liberally.
Be picky on your sunblock. Find one that you don’t mind putting on all the time. I can’t tell you the number of times Blue Lizard sunscreen has been recommended to me by skin professionals. However, it wasn’t until I tried the Blue Lizard sunscreen specific for face that I found a sunblock I really like applying. It is almost gel like and rubs in so well. La Roche Posay also makes a really highly recommended one. And if you truly can’t find one read my next tip.
3. If you don’t like sunblock, then go this route
If you just can’t stand the Casper glow sunblock gives you or just hate reapplying it over your makeup, consider quality makeup that is easy to reapply throughout the day that has SPF. This is also a good option if you don’t like how sunblock feels.
During my appointment, she recommended I try Colorescience. They actually have a lot of great products all designed around protecting your skin. I like their makeup because it has a purpose and provides benefit to my skin. I use their Total protection brush-on shield. I just keep it with me at all times. Every few hours, I re-apply it. I am seriously in love with this product. I wish I had been using it for years.
4. Put sunscreen on your face, neck, chest and hands
Now that you know when and how much sunscreen you should be wearing, where should you be using it everyday? Well, the esthetician told me that after your face, the next places that show signs of aging are your neck, chest and hands because they get the most sun. If you are out driving, your hands will get a lot of UV. I seem to always forget that.
Another common thing to forget is making sure your lip balm contains SPF. My favorite brand is Softlips. You might not burn there but it is actually a common place to end up with cancer. And I for sure don’t want to have part of my lip cut out if I can avoid it.
5. What SPF should you be wearing?
Now, let’s get into the specifics. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and tells you how much UV-B rays are blocked. UV-B rays cause sunburn.
- SPF 15 blocks 93% of UV-B rays
- SPF 30 blocks 97% of UV-B rays
- SPF 50 blocks 98% of UV-B rays
So really, spending money on crazy high SPFs is a waste. What is more important is that you are applying it at the right time and being generous on how much you are using.
But also remember, you need to be protected against both UV-A and UV-B.
6. Make sure it says Broad Spectrum (UV-A and UV-B)
If your sunscreen does not say broad spectrum, then you are not protected. There are three types of rays: UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. UV-C is absorbed by the atmosphere so you don’t have to worry about it. UV-B is what causes sunburns and tans. UV-A causes premature skin aging and cancer.
If your sunscreen doesn’t say broad spectrum, then you are most likely just getting protection from UV-B. This means the rays that cause aging are still damaging your skin. Some companies use a PA+ system that tells you how well you are protected from UV-A rays.
7. How to get into the habit of re-applying
First, you need to always have sunscreen handy so buy multiples and keep them wherever you might need one. In your bathroom, near the door, in your bag, and at work. Now, every time you use the restroom, make a mental note to put on sunscreen. After I wash my hands, I always put on hand lotion so I just switched that with a quality lotion that had broad-spectrum sunscreen. I then do a quick re-application to my face, neck and chest. It is easy because you have a mirror in the restroom.
8. Check your sunglasses
They need to say 100% protection, or they are letting in UV. Additionally, bigger is better because they then protect the super delicate skin around your eyes (crows feet). Absolutely no metal on your sunglasses, especially the rims. The metal will reflect the sun and reflect it onto your cheeks.
Just like sunblock, I try to never be without sunglasses, so I have multiple pairs.
9. Vitamin C and E
These are the powerhouse antioxidants that you want in your skincare routine. They will help your skin protect itself from sun and pollution and then they will also help reverse the damage. Vitamin C is vital in producing collagen. When collagen breaks down, you get wrinkles. Vitamin E helps repair some of the DNA damage the sun does.
Now, it’s important to be applying Vitamin C to your skin so find a quality product. Vitamin C needs to be kept stable. There can be no water so be sure to check for this. You will find a lot if DIY Vitamin C serums (Vitamin C powder and water) but they usually aren’t effective. Vitamin C degrades in the presence of water. Once it dries on your skin, it recrystallizes and can’t penetrate the cells. This means that any of the Vitamin C that didn’t degrade is useless on your skin. It is very hard to formulate a Vitamin C serum that penetrates the skin, hence why it is so expensive.
Additionally, antioxidants work better together. The absolute best Vitamin C serum is from Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. It is expensive but honestly, worth every penny. Besides sunblock, these two antioxidants are the best way to repair lines and damage caused by the sun.
Since I spurge on my Vitamin C serums, I go cheap on Vitamin E. It is a lot more stable and easier to work with. I buy Vitamin E gel capsules off Amazon. Cut one open and apply it all over your face before bed. You will wake up with the softest, most rejuvenated skin ever. I do this so often in winter when my skin is needing extra TLC. It is also a fantastic way to treat a sunburn if you get one.
10. Foods that protect your skin
Speaking of vitamins, there are foods you can eat that actually increase your body’s natural ability to protect itself from the sun. Additionally, they will help repair the damage too. This does not mean don’t wear sunblock. You still need sunblock, but here are the biggest ones:
- Blueberries and Strawberries
- Watermelon and Citrus Fruit
- Green Tea
And just increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables will do wonders for your skin just because they contain so many antioxidants and vitamins.
11. Invest in sun protecting items
Any money here is going to do more for your skin than any anti-aging skin creams. I finally decided to buy hats I would actually wear along with a few protective shirts. I absolutely love Sunday Afternoons hats. They have so many styles and all offer excellent protection. I grabbed one for the beach and a cap for every day. I also grabbed some of their adjustable ones for my kids for the summer.
Other staples in my wardrobe are super light weight jackets that are perfect for summer. I grab mine at Old Navy. I also get a pair of leggings that are light weight and breathable for the summer. If I am out and don’t want to wear sunscreen, I wear protective clothing. I would rather wear more now than have to deal with the damage to my skin later.
12. Beware of soaps
Since you are going to all this effort to protect your skin from the sun, don’t undo this by using a bad face cleaner. Now I know everyone has different skin types and different ideas of what they like. But remember that your skin functions as a barrier. When you strip it of natural oils, your skin loses moisture more easily. You are then more likely to develop those fine lines and wrinkles.
Additionally, you could disrupt the pH of your skin, changing what type of bacteria will grow. This is a huge cause of acne (if you have acne check out Motherdirt AO Mist).
I also do the oil cleansing method where I rub coconut or olive oil all over my face, wet a wash cloth with hot water, cover my face with the cloth for a few minutes to get a steam and then wipe away all of the oil.
I have a hard time getting all the makeup off, so I also use CeraVe Miceullar water which is super gentle and really helps.
13. Hydrate your skin
Now that your skin is finally getting a break from all that damage, it can work on recovering. So, nourish it. Lotion only moisturizes. It isn’t hydrating your skin unless it has hyaluronic acid or another ingredient that uptakes water. Hyaluronic acid is the gold standard, it will uptake 1000 times its weight in water. This means it keeps water on the surface of your skin for your cells. It is what fillers are made of. Your skin will lose up to 50% of its natural hyaluronic acid with age.
The best way to apply products with hyaluronic acid is to ensure it has water to uptake. I usually spray my face with the La Rose Posey water mist right before applying. You can just use tap water, but I use that mist because it contains minerals that are good for your skin. For your face, grab a product that has a decent concentration of hyaluronic acid.
Now there are really expensive products which are amazing like Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier, SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator and La Roche-Posay Redermic C Anti-Wrinkle Firming Mosturizing Filler. If your skin is in need of a lot of TLC, I would do one round of one of these. After that, I would routinely use a less expensive one. My favorite one is created by The Ordinary Company. They are all about “climical formulations with integrity.” I use their Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 every day.
For your body, coat your skin with CeraVe cream or a similar product. Do this after a shower when your skin is damp.
Pursue better skin Today
When it comes to your skin, knowledge is power. There are so many products on the market, it can become so hard to even know what you are putting on your skin. Just remember, start with finding a great broad-spectrum sunblock that you will put on every day multiple times a day.
Once your skin can get a break from all the damage thrown at it every day, it will start to repair itself. Give it a boost with antioxidants and the best hydrator, hyaluronic acid.
Have any beauty secrets? I would love to hear what you do in the comments.
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I am a wife, teacher, and mother to two awesome girls. I write about what I am passionate about, which includes being a mom, house projects, beauty and skincare. I love to share my experiences, failures, and successes with my readers. Let this space be a resource for you to pursue your very best day.