Dr. Perricone Discusses

Sun Damage Tips

Q&A With Dr. Nicholas Perricone


Q: Dr. Perricone, can you provide tips on how to avoid sun damage?

A: Sun Damage can show up on skin in many ways:
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Thinner, more translucent-looking skin
  • Wrinkles
  • Dry, rough, leathery skin
  • Broken capillaries on the face
  • Freckles
  • Liver spots on the face, back of hands, arms, chest and upper back
  • Spots or blemishes on the lower legs and arms
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a part of sunlight that is an invisible form of radiation. UV rays can penetrate and change the structure of skin cells. Protection from excessive sun exposure is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach; UV rays can cause skin damage during any season or temperature.

Any time the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays are able to reach the earth, you need to protect yourself from excessive sun exposure. For many health reasons we do need some sun exposure—just use moderation and avoid the sun during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during daylight savings time and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. during standard time, the most hazardous for UV exposure in the continental United States.

Take a Pycnogenol® supplement. Oral supplementation of healthy volunteers with Pycnogenol was shown to help prevent UV damage and the resulting photo-aging. Pycnogenol inhibits the inflammation caused by UV-exposure and consequently protects the skin from sunburn.

Eat plenty of wild salmon. One of the reasons I have always been such an advocate of eating salmon is due to the presence of the carotenoid astaxanthin (it also contains wrinkle fighters COQ10 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids). This member of the carotene family is responsible for the deep red or pink color of the salmon and has many wrinkle fighting benefits as does the entire carotenoid family.

When taken as a dietary supplement, studies have shown that astaxanthin provides powerful protection against photo-aging, protecting the skin from the aging and damaging effects of the sun. Studies have also shown that supplemental astaxanthin supports even skin tone, significantly reduces wrinkles and improves skin's elasticity. Both astaxanthin and Omega-3's offer cumulative results that will help provide internal protection to the skin against the sun's damaging rays. They will also increase smoothness, suppleness and radiance to skin. Enjoy them in salmon or take as supplements—I recommend both dietary and supplements for optimum health and beauty.

You should be out in the sun for at least 15 minutes each day (but not during peak hours of 10 AM to 3 PM when sun is at its hottest) for a brisk walk or enjoying other activities, but don't bake in the sun. Melanocytes begin to burn out when you reach your late 30s and 40s, making it more difficult for your skin to fight sun damage, which can result in uneven pigmentation.

I recommend 15 minutes a day without sunscreen because it will increase vitamin D protection known to reduce the risk of many internal cancers and at the same time reduce risk of osteoporosis—sunshine is the best source of this critical vitamin.

Drink green tea and take green tea extracts as they have been proven to reduce DNA damage caused by UV exposure.

Include the super form of vitamin E known as the tocotrienols. Taken as a supplement, they provide our first line of defense against free radicals generated in the skin by UV/ozone rays providing the prevention of skin aging and damage by oxidative rays. Being a more potent antioxidant, the tocotrienols neutralize free radicals at a faster rate and offer greater protection than the tocopherols.

Lastly, chose a chemical fee sunscreen that does not cause acne breakouts.

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