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How the Sun Affects Different Skin Types

by Staff Writer
The damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun affect all skin types and tones, making sun protection important for everyone. Ultraviolet exposure increases your risk for skin cancer over the long term and in the short term can cause painful sunburns and irritation. The sun also has other effects on the skin of which you should be aware.

Dry Skin and the Sun

When you're outside in the sun, you're exposing your skin not only to ultraviolet but also to intense heat. The moisture in your skin is just like water in a puddle: when it is heated to a warm temperature, it can evaporate. If you have dry skin, spending time in the sun can exacerbate symptoms of dehydration, leaving your skin flaky and tight. You can help to combat this by using a cream-based sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF protection. These formulas will help to replace the moisture in your skin to minimize the drying effects of the sun.

Oily Skin and Sun Exposure

Although moisture evaporates from the skin during sun exposure, spending the day outdoors in the summer can actually worsen an oily shine and leave the skin feeling greasy. This is partially due to sweating in the heat of the sun's rays, but it also occurs because of humidity in the air that is often present in the summer. People with oily skin are often hesitant to use sunscreen for fear that it will worsen their symptoms, but you never want to skip your SPF protection. Instead, use an oil-free sunscreen or a lightweight spray to create an effective shield without adding excess moisture.

Acne Prone Complexions in the Sun

Some controversy exists over acne and the sun. There is some evidence to suggest that ultraviolet treatments done under the supervision of a doctor can reduce the frequency of acne breakouts as the light has an antibacterial effect on the skin. However, the risks of sun damage are such that it is not a good idea to try and self-treat acne with the sun. Also, some acne medications and topical treatments sensitize the skin to the sun, making it important that you don't skip the sunscreen if you're currently using a medicine or a skin care regimen to battle acne.

Sensitive Skin and Sun Damage

Sensitive skin can easily become irritated by sun exposure, and those with more delicate complexions may also find it difficult to use sunscreen, as many chemical products can trigger sensitivity reactions. To protect a delicate complexion, consider a natural or organic mineral sunscreen, which will contain little or no synthetic ingredients and may be gentler on your complexion.

Keep in mind that although people with fair skin are the most susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer, even those with dark complexions can develop skin cancer and premature wrinkles due to the sun's effects. Never spend time in the sun without wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with the right SPF level for your complexion. This will help you protect your skin, whatever its tone or type.