How to Avoid and Reverse Summer Sun Damage

by Sirius K. Yoo, M.D.


Summer is one of the best times to live in sunny San Diego! However, before you claim the beach as your home for the next three months, keep in mind that this incredible San Diego sunshine comes with some seriously alarming effects to your skin. 

Not only does exposure to sunlight radiation account for more than 90% of premature aging symptoms, but UV radiations can also cause rapid skin discoloration and even cancer.

Here are some top skincare tips on how to safely enjoy the sunshine this summer. 

Avoiding Sun Damage

SPF 101

First things first: There are two types of UV rays - UVA and UVB. UVA rays can reach the deeper layers of the skin, causing wrinkles, sagging and cancer formation, while UVB rays primarily lead to sunburn. 

SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measurement of only UVB ray protection, not UVA ray protection. This means that your go-to sunscreen may only protect sunburns, but your complexion may be at risk for sun damage, aging and skin cancer.

Experts suggest always choosing a sunscreen product with no lower than SPF 30, but no higher than 50. Products with SPF higher than 50 may have greater health risks and do not provide greater protection benefits. However, you need to apply at least a nickel-sized amount in order to reach the stated level of SPF. If you’re applying less, consider using a higher SPF. More importantly, don't rely on sunscreen as your only method of sun protection.

 What to Look For in a Sunscreen

Just because your skin didn't burn from your beach day doesn't mean it's not damaged. Look for UVA-blocking ingredients, such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone and oxybenzone, to make sure your skin is shielded from premature wrinkles or sunspots. 

I suggest looking for sunscreen products labeled as broad spectrum or multi-spectrum, like the one by Revision. These products ensure your skin has a wide protection from both UVA and UVB damage.

For those who suffer from redness or blotchiness, look for anti-inflammatory ingredients in your skincare products. Having trouble with brown spots? Search for lightening agents. 

Reversing Sun Damage

So what can you do when the damage has already been done? There are plenty of home remedies that you can try that, when done right, can revitalize and rejuvenate your skin.

When it's Time to See a Professional

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to limit our time in the sun and properly apply sunscreen, skin damage can still occur. Signs of skin damage include wrinkles, sunspots, freckling, uneven skin texture, and loss of elasticity. When significant changes occur, a skincare professional can suggest minimally invasive treatments and products to assist in reversing damage.

I recommend asking about prescription products and surface treatments such as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). Gentle surface treatments like IPL use light photon energy to stimulate the skin's collagen production and encourage skin rejuvenation from within. Sun damage and skin discoloration can be reduced up to 90% with brown spots and red marks nearly vanishing. 

When in doubt about your sun protection routine, contact a skincare professional and seek expert advice. Practicing proper sun protection can not only protect your appearance, but also protect your life!