Living in California has many advantages, not the least of which is abundant sunshine year-round. While you may make an effort to protect yourself from the high, strong sun in summer, don’t let your efforts falter during the other seasons.
The sun can wreak havoc on your skin no matter the time of year.
Our skin care experts here at Los Gatos Dermatology, under the direction of Dr. Bruce Saal, understand better than most how the sun can damage your skin. We want to emphasize that this damage can occur any time the sun is out — in summer as well as during the other seasons.
To keep your skin healthy, here’s what you should know about year-round protection against the sun.
How the sun damages skin
There are two key facts to consider when it comes to the sun. Sun exposure is behind most cases of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States, and the sun is responsible for up to 90% of the visible signs of aging in your skin.
The sun emits two types of rays — ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) — both of which can damage your skin.
UVA rays affect all layers of your skin, and they’re present and constant year-round.
UVB rays mainly target your epidermis, or outermost layer of skin, and are primarily responsible for sunburns. UVB rays tend to be stronger in the summer with the high sun, but these harmful rays can still cause damage at any time of year.
Combined, these types of UV light can lead to skin cancer, as well as the premature breakdown of the structural support in your skin, which promotes signs of aging. And exposure to the sun can cause other unwanted skin issues, such as age spots and facial veins.
UV rays in all seasons
When the high, hot sun of summer gives way to a lower, less powerful sun, you may be lulled into thinking that your skin is safe. Even the lowest winter sun emits harmful UV rays that can damage unprotected skin.
We also want to point out that even on a cloudy day, you shouldn’t let your guard down. The sun still emits UV light that can get through the clouds. In fact, these rays can be amplified by the moisture in the clouds.
Lastly, if you’re heading to Tahoe or some other snowy destination for a little winter fun, you should protect your skin. The UV rays reflect off the snow and back onto your skin, essentially doubling your exposure. And if you’re at a high altitude, the UV rays are stronger because the atmosphere is thinner and not able to block the radiation as effectively.
Protecting your skin
We’ve discussed protecting your skin, but let’s take a closer look at what we mean. Your first line of defense is a good sunscreen that features an SPF of at least 15 (30 is better). You should apply sunscreen every two hours while you’re outside.
Covering up is always a good idea. For example, wear a hat with a wide brim that shades your face. You can also protect the sensitive skin around your eyes with large sunglasses.
While these steps can go a long way toward protecting your skin, rest assured that we can also help breathe new life into damaged skin through our aesthetician services and intense pulsed light (IPL) technologies.
To learn more about protecting your skin or to treat existing sun damage, contact our office in Los Gatos, California, to set up an appointment.