If you look in the mirror and are frustrated by the wrinkles, brown spots and rough patches you see, you're probably looking at the results of long-term sun damage. Our knowledge about UV rays and sunblock has increased dramatically over the past few decades, but if you grew up not knowing (or not caring) about protecting your skin, then you're probably dealing with damaged skin today.
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, you shouldn't lose hope, no matter how old you are. There are ways to repair the effects of sun damage and prevent further problems.
1. Start using sunscreen daily. Skin cancer is the number one most common form of cancer in the United States. Knowing that, doesn't it make sense to take precautions against the disease on a regular basis? Wearing a moisturizer with a minimum of SPF 15 every day can decrease your risk of developing skin cancer, make your face look younger, even out your skin and prevent brown spots from forming.
2. Exfoliate your arms, legs, back, and face. Pick up a scrub or chemical exfoliator at your drugstore, then use it to eliminate the weird lines and spots that sun damaged has caused. Exfoliation can also help with dead skin that clings to your body after a bad sunburn, and if you're experiencing discolored patches of skin, the product can help repair the damage.
3. Look into restorative creams and other products. Don't just grab the first good-looking product you see on the shelf. Do some research to figure out which ingredients and techniques are approved by dermatologists. For wrinkles, experts often recommend retinoids, beta-carotene and chemical peels. If you have sun spots, try skin-lightening creams.
4. Strap a water bottle to your hip and hydrate constantly. When your body is dehydrated, so is your skin. That's why people who don't drink enough water often experience tight, flaky, or dry skin. In order for your body to recover from prolonged sun damage, you'll need to make sure you're giving your skin enough water to properly heal.
5. Talk to your dermatologist. Obviously, one of the best things you can do for your skin is to have it assessed by a professional. Dermatologists can help you come up with treatment plans for damaged skin, check for signs of skin cancer and even recommend treatments that reverse sun damage.
Whether you've experienced 10 bad sunburns or 100, your skin has taken a beating from the UV rays. Thankfully, with a little effort and knowledge, you can still protect your skin from further damage and make it look healthy once more. To learn more about sun damage and preventing skin cancer, visit www.skincancer.org.