Take this quiz too see how healthy your skin is. Then learn how to mitigate the damage!-Paige Herman Axel, Betty's Beauty Queen
Being sun-smart is a lifelong vocation. The damage you do to your skin in your teens might not show up until you're in your late twenties or thirties, but by then it's too late to go back and undo it. No quick beauty tip is going to make a significant difference. The ignorance of our youth (in the form of unprotected sun exposure and periodic bouts with tanorexia) often results in dark spots and rough texture down the line, and although these symptoms can be treated, it can take time (or expensive and possibly painful dermatological procedures) to get skin back on track.
Though we're focusing on the appearance of our skin here, it's important to know that sun damage is strongly linked to skin cancer, which is why it's even more imperative to protect your skin from the sun starting right now. If you answer yes to any of these questions, it's possible that you already have sun damage - even if you can't see it yet.
1. Have you spent many summers by the beach or the pool trying to get as tan as possible? We've all done it. Before we know any better, a deep, dark tan is like a souvenir you bring back from a trip or spring break to show the world that you did nothing but lay out all day.
2. Is sunscreen a relative newcomer to your beauty routine? Fortunately, I think we're all more aware of the importance of sun protection these days. But on the flip side, sunscreen isn't going to erase the damage that's already been done. The number one way to prevent damage is to start wearing sunscreen every day, rain or shine, starting now.
3. Do you skip the sunscreen if you're planning on spending most of the day indoors? Even if you're just going to and from the office on a given day, a lifetime of walking to and from your car without sunscreen can add up to significant sun damage down the line. And if you thought you were safe sitting in your car, sorry to break it to you, you're not. UV rays travel through the car window, which is why many women see spots on the left side of their face before the right.
4. Have you ever used a tanning bed? We've known that tanning beds are bad news for quite a while, but apparently we didn't know how bad they actually are. Just a few weeks ago, a study was released saying that the use of tanning beds before the age of 30 can increase the risk of skin cancer by 75 percent - making them as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas.
5. Have you ever gotten a really bad sunburn that resulted in pain or blistering? Studies have shown that just one severe sunburn before the age of 18 can double your risk of skin cancer, so it's a no-brainer that this kind of injury to the skin can result in premature aging as well.
Though some damage may be done, try these beauty tips now to keep your skin looking great for years to come.
Use sunscreen now. Daily moisturizers with SPF are easy to come by at any price point, so if you only do one thing, swap out the day cream you're using now for a formula that contains at least SPF 30.
Exfoliate. When you remove the dead outer layers of your skin, you're removing any roughness and excess pigment as well. Sloughing off these damaged cells also prompts your skin to turn over faster, revealing new, fresh skin with less damage.
Self tan. If you can't live without a golden glow, get one safely with a self-tanner. One of the best recent beauty innovations are daily self-tanners that contain anti-aging ingredients and SPF, so you get all of these benefits in one tube. One to try: Mystic Tan Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer Face SPF 15. ($29, sephora.com)
Try niacin. One of the most effective over-the-counter ingredients for tackling sun damage is niacin. You can find it in the NIA24 and Canyon Ranch Your Transformation products.
Don't worry - it's not too late! Take good care of your skin and you can mitigate the effects of sun damage.