What You Need to Know About How the Sun Affects Our Skin- Michael Housley, PA-C Talks to Us About Sun Damage, Sunscreen, and More

Q: How does sun damage happen?

A: Sun damage, also known as photoaging, occurs when ultraviolet (UV) rays cause DNA damage at a cellular level. And it looks like a change in pigmentation, such as a tan or a burn. 

Q: What should we know about sun damage that doesn’t seem intuitive? For example, is there such a thing as a safe tan or base tanning? 

A: There is no such thing as a safe tan or base tan. Any tan is a result of UV radiation causing damage to the skin, the skin responds by increasing the pigmentation, but the skin is still being damaged.

Q: To what extent does sun exposure contribute to wrinkles, sunspots, and loss elasticity? 

A: Greatly. The sun prematurely ages our skin. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation tells us that an estimated 90 percent of aging is due to the sun.

Q: Does indoor tanning cause skin damage? 

A: Absolutely. Tanning beds can emit UV radiation stronger than the sun at its peak intensity by 10 to 15 times. So, people who use tanning beds will see a premature aging of the skin, causing dark spots, wrinkles, and loss of elasticity (tanning makes your skin saggy). And on top of that, it will increase the risk of all types of skin cancer.

Q: How does the sun affect our eyes? Our lips? 

A: Skin cancer can be found on the lips, eyelids, and even in the retinas. Care should be taken to protect those areas also. We are fans of EltaMD® UV Lips Balm SPF 36 to protect your lips. For eye protection make sure that you are wearing sunglasses that block out 99 to 100% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Q: What’s the best way to layer sunscreen and makeup? 

A: I recommend applying your sunscreen first, allowing it to dry, then applying makeup.

Michael Housley is a certified Physician Assistant and specializes in Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Dermatology. He has been treating patients in Boise since 2016. Prior to joining the Dermatology Clinic of Idaho, he practiced in Texas and completed his Physician Assistant training in Arizona. To learn more about Michael and to make an appointment with him click here.