Sun-damaged skin is no joke. After years of unprotected (or inadequately protected) sun exposure, the skin begins to show signs of change.
How the Skin Changes
When you eat, your body turns carbohydrates into sugar. Over time, these sugars will accumulate in your bloodstream. The sugars attach to proteins throughout your organs, causing atherosclerosis in the heart, renal failure in the kidneys, and cross-linked, damaged collagen and elastin within your skin.
This process accelerates with age.
When UV light hits glycated skin, It is a recipe for disaster. UV light hitting collagen cross-linked with sugars can cause significant amounts of wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, thinning skin, sagging skin, and a sallow complexion with age.
Glycation also affects the pigment-transporting cells of the skin, called melanocytes. These melanocytes are distributed from the top to the bottom of your skin. Typically, they will transfer melanin, or pigment, from the bottom layers of the skin where it is produced to the top. But as the skin becomes increasingly more cross-linked with sugars, the melanocyters lose their ability to distribute pigment evenly.
As the damage progresses, your face shows it in the form of freckles, sunspots, blotches, uneven pigmentation, blood vessels, a duller complexion, and wrinkles.
And because glycation accelerates with age, these signs of cumulative DNA damage and slowed cellular turnover will also increase as you age.
HOW To Treat and Prevent Sun-Damaged Skin
Using sunscreen obviously helps. AminoGenesis Wrinkle Arrest SPF 30 ($59.95) contains not one but five stabilized sunscreens for solid broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection:
- Homosalate is from the same family as like salicylic acid. Regular use of homosalate is associated with less inflammation, redness, and swelling in the skin (European Journal of Pharmacology). It’s used as a standard by which the FDA tests the efficacy of other sunscreens (FDA).
- Avobenzone is a very common sunscreen ingredient. It works by taking UV light and converting it into energy that isn’t harmful. Avobenzone can break down easily, so it is best used with other sunscreens (International Journal of Pharmacology).
- Oxybenzone will stabilize avobenzone (FDA).
- Octisalate is a photostabilizer of avobenzone as well (JAAD).
- Octocrylene is a third avobenzone stabilizer that provides further UVB protection (Free Radical Research, 2010).
Another way to prevent glycation is to use Albizia julibrissin. An antidepressant in mice in high doses (for releasing serotonin), it is also used in Eastern medicine to nourish the heart and calm the spirit (Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine).
In skin care, A. julibrissin prevents against glycation:
- It repairs glycated skin;
- It arrests glycation in its tracks, which is called a “deglycating” effect or of “de- glycation”. This means that Albizia julibrissin can neutralize or detoxify the products as they are leading up to glycation (US Patent).
A. julibrissin is found in AminoGenesis AGE Control Anti-Glycation Serum.
Sun damage is often exacerbated by glycation, a process by which sugars attach to proteins, damaging skin at an accelerated rate as you age. Luckily, there are ingredients like Albizia julibrissin and amino acids that can help to repair this process.