Over time, the sun's ultraviolet (UV) light harms fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag and stretch. It also bruises and tears more easily, taking longer to heal.
Spending too much time in the sun can also give your skin freckles, rough texture, white spots, a yellowing of the skin, and discolored areas of the skin (which doctors call "mottled pigmentation"). It can also widen small blood vessels under your skin.
9 Ways to Protect Your Skin
- Wear sunscreen every day, in all weather and in every season. It should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 and say "broad-spectrum" on the label, which means it protects against the sun's UVA and UVB rays. Put it on at least 15 minutes before going outside. Use 1 ounce, which would fill a shot glass.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every 80 minutes, or more often if you're sweating or swimming.
- Wear sunglasses with total UV protection.
- Wear wide-brimmed hats, and long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Avoid being out in the sun as much as possible from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Check your skin regularly so you know what's normal for you and to notice any changes or new growths.
- Choose cosmetics and contact lenses that offer UV protection. You still need to use sunscreen and wear sunglasses with broad-spectrum sun protection.
- If you're a parent, protect your child's skin and practice those habits together.
- Don't use tanning beds.