The UV Effect: How Sun Exposure Affects Your Skin


sun damage and how it affects our skin. treatments and solutions. Victoria BC. treatments for collagen and pigmentation.

So you want to age well? A great skincare routine and regular clinical treatments are super helpful at keeping skin looking great. But did you know that unprotected sun exposure is the number one reason people age prematurely?

Read on to find out more about how UV damages skin and the ways we can reverse or prevent that damage to our skin. 


UV (ultraviolet) radiation from the sun can damage the skin in a number of ways. In skincare we are particularly focused on the fact that UV exposure damages our youth preserving collagen, and also triggers pigmentation changes. When UV radiation penetrates the skin, it can cause the following types of damage:

  • DNA damage: UV radiation can cause damage to the DNA in skin cells, which can lead to mutations that increase the risk of skin cancer.
  • Oxidative stress: UV radiation can create free radicals in the skin, which can cause oxidative stress and damage to skin cells, leading to premature aging and other skin problems.
  • Inflammation: UV radiation can trigger an inflammatory response in the skin, leading to redness, swelling, and other symptoms of sunburn.
  • Collagen breakdown: UV radiation can break down collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, leading to wrinkles, sagging, and other signs of aging.
  • Pigment changes: UV radiation can also cause changes in skin pigmentation, leading to dark spots, freckles, and other discoloration.


UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) are both types of ultraviolet radiation that come from the sun and can cause damage to the skin. However, they have different characteristics and effects on the skin. UVA tends to be associated with signs of aging while UVB is associated with burns and skin cancer.

UVA even penetrates glass (glass offers some protection from UVB) and can damage our skin with direct exposure through a window. People who spend a lot of time driving may actually see accelerated aging on the left side of their face.

  • Wavelength: UVA has a longer wavelength than UVB, which means it can penetrate deeper into the skin, reaching the underlying layers, while UVB is more likely to cause damage to the top layers of the skin.
  • Intensity: UVB is more intense than UVA, especially during the middle of the day when the sun's rays are strongest.
  • Effects on the skin: UVA can cause premature aging, wrinkles, and dark spots, while UVB is the main cause of sunburns and can also contribute to skin cancer.


UV (ultraviolet) radiation from tanning beds is not safe for our skin. Tanning beds emit high levels of UV radiation, which can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer, just like exposure to natural sunlight.

In fact, tanning beds are considered to be even more dangerous than natural sunlight because they emit high levels of UVA radiation, which can penetrate deep into the skin and cause long-term damage. UVA radiation from tanning beds can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, and dark spots, as well as an increased risk of skin cancer.

Tanning beds can also cause sunburn, which is a sign of acute UV damage to the skin. Sunburn can cause pain, redness, and blistering, and can increase the risk of skin cancer.

Overall, the use of tanning beds is not recommended for anyone, as it can cause significant harm to the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. 


UV (ultraviolet) radiation is a natural source of vitamin D, and exposure to sunlight is the most efficient way for our bodies to produce vitamin D. When UVB radiation from the sun hits our skin, it triggers a chemical reaction that produces vitamin D.

However, it's important to note that excessive exposure to UV radiation can increase the risk of skin damage and skin cancer. To balance the benefits of vitamin D production with the risks of UV exposure, it's recommended that you get your vitamin D from a combination of sources, including sunlight, food, and supplements.

The amount of vitamin D that your body produces from sunlight depends on factors such as:

  • your skin color
  • the time of day
  • the season and your location.
Generally, it's recommended that you spend a few minutes in the sun each day without sunscreen to allow your body to produce vitamin D, but it's important to avoid prolonged exposure and to protect your skin with sunscreen, protective clothing, and shade.

If you're concerned about your vitamin D levels, you can talk to your doctor about getting a blood test to check your levels and discuss ways to optimize your vitamin D intake.


There are two main types of sunblock that are effective at protecting our skin from UV (ultraviolet) damage: physical sunblocks and chemical sunblocks.

We recommend a broad spectrum physical sunblock (protects against UVA and UVB) for our facial areas, since anyone concerned with aging well will be wearing this on a daily basis. You should wear an SPF of 25-30 any time you're going out, even on cloudy days.

Chemical sunblocks can be used less often (a beach day) on larger body areas to lessen the risks associated with certain chemical compounds found in these products.

  1. Physical sunblocks: Physical sunblocks, also known as mineral sunblocks, work by physically blocking or reflecting UV radiation from the skin. They contain ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which sit on top of the skin and create a physical barrier against UV radiation. Physical sunblocks are generally considered to be safe and effective, and are less likely to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions than chemical sunblocks. They are also effective at protecting against both UVA and UVB radiation.

  2. Chemical sunblocks: Chemical sunblocks work by absorbing UV radiation and converting it into heat, which is then released from the skin. They contain ingredients such as avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone. Chemical sunblocks are generally easy to apply and provide long-lasting protection, but they can be more likely to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions than physical sunblocks. It's also important to note that some chemical sunblocks may only protect against UVB radiation and not UVA radiation, so it's important to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both.

The best way to treat sun damage is to prevent it in the first place by protecting the skin from the sun.


So you've had some unprotected sun exposure? If you're experiencing skin issues associated with sun damage, there are effective treatment options depending on the severity of the damage and the specific symptoms that are present. However, here are some general tips that can help to improve sun-damaged skin:

  • Use a moisturizer: Sun exposure can dry out the skin, so it's important to use a moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated and prevent further damage. Look for a moisturizer that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or ceramides.
  • Apply topical antioxidants: Topical antioxidants can help to neutralize free radicals in the skin that are caused by UV radiation. These antioxidants can help to reduce inflammation and improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin.
  • Use actives: like Matrixyl 3000 and copper peptides which can help to stimulate collagen production and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles that are caused by sun damage.
  • Consider chemical peels or laser treatments: For more severe sun damage, chemical peels or laser treatments may be recommended. These treatments can help to improve skin texture, reduce pigmentation, and stimulate collagen production.
  • Protect the skin from further damage: To prevent further sun damage, it's important to protect the skin from the sun by wearing protective clothing, seeking shade, and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Would you like to find out more about options for treating sun damage? We offer complimentary consultations. Book your today at 250.590.5459 


This page is for informational use only and should not be taken as medical advice.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published