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Protecting and Treating Sun-Damaged Skin

Defying Photoaging: Protecting and Treating Sun-Damaged Skin

We’ve all heard the warnings and been scolded about it by concerned friends and family – “put on sunscreen and be careful of UV rays”. It may make you want to roll your eyes, but protecting your skin from sun damage is one of the best habits you can have throughout your life.

The process known as photoaging is the premature aging of the skin caused by sun exposure. No matter how diligent you are with sunscreen and hats, it’s hard to cover up every bit of your skin. Over time, even this small amount of exposure can add up and become evident.


What Does Sun-Damaged Skin Look Like?

As unique as our bodies may be, certain tell-tale signs of photoaging tend to show up for everyone – and identifying these issues can be the first step in addressing them with one of the methods listed below. When examining your skin for damage, watch out for the following:

  1. Pigment Irregularities: Sun damage can manifest as colored spots or patches (melasma), freckles, liver spots (solar lentigines), and age spots. These areas of uneven pigmentation can give your skin an aged and blotchy appearance.
  2. Vascular Lesions: Varicose and spider veins, which are the result of degraded and broken capillaries in your skin, may emerge on your nose, cheeks, and neck. These reddish or purplish veins (officially referred to as telangiectasia) can contribute to facial redness and an overall uneven complexion.
  3. Texture Changes: The condition of actinic keratosis is characterized by red, rough, scaly spots that crop up on your skin due to excessive sun exposure. These spots can not only affect your skin's texture but also pose a risk of developing into a form of cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma.

What Happens to Sun-Damaged Skin?

Beyond the visible signs that you can easily see – sunburns, peeling, and so on – excessive sun exposure can lead to profound changes in the skin's health and appearance and increase the risks of cancer and abnormal growth. Some of the most common outcomes include:
  1. Thinning and Vulnerability: Overexposure to the sun can lead to the thinning of the skin's protective outer layer. As a result, the skin becomes more susceptible to damage from external factors, may take longer to heal, and may lose some of its natural strength.
  2. Loss of Tone and Elasticity: Collagen and elastin, essential proteins that maintain skin's firmness and elasticity, can degrade faster under the influence of UV radiation. This loss can contribute to sagging skin and a less youthful appearance.
  3. Formation of Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Sun-damaged skin tends to exhibit more fine lines and wrinkles, particularly around delicate areas like the eyes and mouth. These visible signs of aging are often a result of prolonged sun exposure which accelerates the breakdown of collagen fibers.


Preventing Sun Damage to Your Skin

A proactive approach to skin and sun safety can significantly reduce the risk of permanent damage. A few minutes of precaution can shield your skin from the sun's harmful effects and help to keep your youthful glow going strong. Here are some key things to remember:

  1. Sunscreen and Protective Gear: Sunscreen, hats, and other protective gear is the foundation of all good sun protection. Use broad-spectrum, high SPF sunscreen, reapplied every few hours or more frequently if swimming, and keep those stylish hats and sunglasses close at hand.
  2. Timing is Key: Whenever possible, avoid venturing out during the sun's peak intensity, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you need to be outside, seek shade under umbrellas or trees to minimize direct exposure.
  3. Nourishing Skincare Routine: A well-maintained skincare regimen can play a vital role in preventing sun damage. Ensure that yours includes products rich in moisture, essential minerals, antioxidants, and other nourishing compounds. Hydrated and nourished skin is better equipped to withstand environmental stressors like UV radiation.


Different Ways of Treating Skin with Sun Damage

If you do find that you’ve experienced photoaging symptoms, don’t worry – there’s a range of treatment options available to address them. Tailored to accommodate various skin types and tones, you can choose the ones that best suit unique needs.

Topical Agents

  1. Hydroquinone: Widely recognized for its skin-lightening properties, hydroquinone is particularly effective at reducing the appearance of blemishes, sunspots, and uneven pigmentation caused by sun damage. By inhibiting the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin coloration, hydroquinone helps achieve a more even complexion.
  2. Vitamin C and Other Antioxidants: The UV rays in sunlight often create free radicals – ionic, highly reactive compounds that accelerate visible signs of aging. Vitamin C and other antioxidants are useful against these harmful molecules, counteracting oxidative stress and slowing down skin aging, mitigating UV radiation damage, and supporting collagen preservation.
  3. Retinol: Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, has a multifaceted approach to treating sun-damaged skin. Particularly effective in addressing early signs of photoaging, retinol encourages the shedding of old skin cells, making way for newer, healthier cells. It also stimulates collagen production, which aids in maintaining skin's firmness and reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and roughness.
  4. Exfoliants like AHA: Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are a class of exfoliants that facilitate the turnover of skin cells. By gently removing the outer layer of dead skin cells, AHAs reveal the fresher, more youthful skin beneath. This exfoliation process not only brightens the complexion but also helps improve the texture of sun-damaged skin.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are a popular choice for minimizing sun-damaged skin, addressing irregular skin coloration (pigmentation), and even reducing the visibility of superficial scars. This method involves the controlled application of a chemical solution to the skin's surface, resulting in the removal of the top layer of skin and triggering the growth of new cells.
There are some prerequisites to undergo a chemical peel, and a lack of preparation may lead to issues during and after the treatment. Always have a conversation with the technician before choosing this option, to make sure you’ll get the results you want.

Laser Rejuvenations (like BBL, Morpheus8, and Halo)

Laser treatments are one of the most sought-after solutions for sun damage. They work by targeting specific colours and components of discoloured or damaged cells, causing them to slough off or fade away. By removing the damaged top layer of skin, new collagen and cell production makes the skin’s surface smoother and provides a more even appearance.
  1. Fractional resurfacing, like Halo, delivers microbeams of laser light into the skin to remove the outer layer and heat up the underlying layer. This stimulates a natural healing process that results in the fast growth of new healthy tissue. These lasers can be ablative (to remove the outer layer) or non-ablative (to heal the underlying layers).
  2. Other options like Broadband Light (BBL) use a broad spectrum of light wavelengths to address various skin imperfections caused by sun damage. This non-invasive procedure works by gently heating the upper layers of skin to stimulate collagen production and encourage cellular turnover. BBL is especially effective in treating different skin conditions like uneven pigmentation, age spots, broken blood vessels, and overall redness across the upper body, arms, and hands.

The Sciton® Forever Young BBL™

The Sciton is a laser system that targets skin imperfections at a molecular level and improves signs of aging and skin damage for a younger, smoother, and more radiant complexion. Benefits include:
  • Comprehensive Skin Treatment: Forever Young BBL™ effectively addresses various skin concerns such as sun damage, age spots, and more, offering age-defying benefits.
  • Anti-Aging Transformation: This treatment modifies gene expression to mimic youthful skin, providing remarkable anti-aging effects beyond correcting imperfections.
  • Versatility Across Body Areas: Suitable for all ages, this BBL treatment can be applied across any part of the body.
  • Minimal Invasiveness and Downtime: This non-surgical treatment requires minimal downtime and can even be seamlessly incorporated into regular routines.
  • Lasting Results: Studies prove that consistent treatments yield enduring results and even a form of “younger gene” expression, resulting in visibly smoother and clearer skin.


Hydrafacials are treatments that use exfoliation to uncover the fresh skin beneath the damaged top layer, and then infuse hydration, leaving your skin feeling revitalized and smooth. They’re very effective for diminishing wrinkles and sun-damaged spots, and enhancing overall skin appearance.

Botox and Fillers

Neuromodulators are a reliable and proven tool for helping improve dynamic lines that can be exacerbated by sun damage, such as crows’ feet, furrows, and forehead lines. Adding on to that, fillers using hyaluronic acid, like JUVÉDERM®, are used to treat static lines around the face, jawline, and neck. They’re one of the most common ways to restore volume to loose skin.

Collagen Induction Therapies

Simple procedures like microneedling (SkinPen) and RF microneedling (Morpheus8) help skin cells regenerate and stimulate more collagen, elastin, and fibrin production. Altogether, this improves your skin’s elasticity and volume, which can overcome the damage done by sun exposure as well as issues with skin tone and texture (like acne scars, static lines and skin laxity).


Biostimulation products, like Radiesse and Sculptra thread lifts, reduce the visual and underlying impact of sun damage by stimulating collagen production from beneath the skin itself. You’ll enjoy better skin quality and elasticity, with benefits including:

  • A natural appearance: This technique offers subtle, natural results that address various skin issues beyond just damage from UV exposure.
  • Minimal invasiveness: Biostimulators are minimally invasive, requiring only a few targeted injections and very little downtime.
  • Long-term results: Thanks to ongoing collagen production, biostimulators can deliver impressive results for two years or more.


Reversing Skin Damage in Calgary

Here at Bardöt Beauty, we offer plenty of products and services to get your skin looking its best – all backed up with top-quality training, skills, and knowledge among our technicians and medical aesthetician team. If you’ve got questions about getting your skin as good as it can possibly be, we’ll be happy to answer them all. Reach out today and let’s get that youthful glow back before you know it!

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