How Sun Exposure Damages Your Skin

How Sun Exposure Damages Your Skin

January 1, 2021

The ultra-scary truth about ultra-violet rays

From the moment you’re born, everyone is always telling you (and sometimes yelling at you) to wear sunscreen. “The sun gives you cancer. The sun makes your skin blotchy. The sun gives you wrinkles.” And unfortunately, it only gets worse. But the big question is why.

How to damage your skin.
It’s as simple as 1-2-3

1.  You go out in the sun either wearing the wrong sunscreen or no sunscreen at all.

2.  UVA and UVB rays penetrate deep into the skin and at the surface, releasing something called free radicals.

3.  Free radicals go on the attack, damaging your skin causing lines, dryness, sagging, and more.

Shedding light on free radicals

Never heard of free radicals? Heard about them but don’t really know what they do? Join the club.

Free radicals are unstable molecules always on the hunt for an electron to bond with. Unfortunately, when they “steal” those electrons from other molecules, they initiate chain reactions that inflict damage on healthy cells and tissue. The result: Damaged skin.

3 glaring signs of skin damage

Wrinkles and sagging

Why it happens: Free radicals attack collagen and elastin

Collagen and elastin are protein fibers that create scaffolding for your skin, providing a supportive structure that holds up your epidermis or outermost layer of skin. When free radicals assault collagen and elastin, the skin loses its strength and elasticity and starts to sag and wrinkle.

Dry, leathery skin

Why it happens: Free radicals attack lipids

Lipids help create a protective barrier for your skin that does two important things: it holds moisture in and keeps the elements, like sun and wind, out. Unfortunately, when lipids go head to head with free radicals, your lipid barrier is compromised, causing dry, leathery and irritated skin.

Sun spots, blotchy skin…and even skin cancer

Why it happens: Free radicals attack DNA

Prolonged exposure to UVA rays can increase melanin production, creating hyperpigmentation (or uneven darkening of the skin) and age spots. What’s worse, when free radicals wreak havoc on cell DNA they cause cell mutations that may result in skin cancer, including melanoma.

Sunscreens and antioxidants to the rescue

Two of the best ways to prevent free radicals from damaging the skin is to wear sunscreen religiously and boost your antioxidant levels topically.

Broad spectrum sunscreen

Some things in life are unavoidable. Sun exposure, on the other hand, is completely within your control. Which is why it’s a smart place to start when it comes to addressing damaged skin. Sunscreen with zinc oxide repels most UVB and UVA rays before they can enter the skin and set up a free radical chain reaction. Wear it every day, from dawn to dusk, rain or shine.


Antioxidants, found in everything from red wine to raspberries, are molecules that prevent free radicals from harming healthy tissue. But as you age your body’s antioxidant levels decline, giving the upper hand to free radicals. Unfortunately, you simply can’t eat enough blueberries to fight back and when taken internally, very few antioxidants actually get to the skin. Supplementing with topical antioxidants is the solution to saving your skin.