What is Photoaging? Everything You Need to Know

What is photoaging?
Reading: 3 minutes

At ISDIN, we talk a lot about photoaging. In fact, we consider ourselves experts in the matter. But what is photoaging, exactly?

Well, we know aging is a natural process; something that happens to all of us from the day we’re born. Genetics, among other factors, of course, play a part in how soon we begin to see the visible signs of aging on our skin such as wrinkles, blemishes, or sagging of the skin.

But there is actually something bigger at play in the world of how our skin ages. The key lies in that little prefix “photo”; meaning “relating to light.” In this case, the UV light emitted from the sun. Because, believe it or not, an incredible 80% of facial aging is related to UV exposure!

So, in many cases, we can blame the sun, rather than mom or dad, for making us seem older than we really are. Hence why photoaging is such a large and interesting topic. Let’s dive in.

First, let’s talk sunlight

The sun is an essential part of life, contributing to our mood and well-being, while also playing a key role in the synthesis of vitamin D. However, the sun continually emits something called electromagnetic radiation. But don’t worry, not all of the radiation reaches us. Some of it is absorbed, scattered, and reflected before it reaches Earth. However, some radiation does arrive at the Earth’s surface and form what is called the ‘solar spectrum.’

The solar spectrum is made up of different kinds of radiation which are measured and classified according to their electromagnetic frequencies. You’ve certainly heard of a couple of them: ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) and ultraviolet B radiation (UVB).

What is photoaging?

Solar radiation, and especially UV radiation, accelerates the signs of skin aging (like dark spots and fine lines) more than anything else in your skin exposome. It’s important to understand that UVA rays can reach your skin while you’re indoors, outdoors, in the car, and almost everywhere.

And this UV radiation, in turn, provokes something called free radicals (unstable molecules). Free radicals then break down proteins in the skin and cause both cell and DNA damage.

Luckily, your body has a natural defense against these free radicals: antioxidant production. Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals and counter the effects of radiation. But when the number of free radicals becomes too great for the antioxidant defenses to fight off? That’s called “oxidative stress” and it’s what leads to – you guessed it – visible signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, dullness and more.

How can we combat photoaging?

Think those beach days without sun protection just led to a nasty sunburn that came and went? Think again. Your skin actually has its own memory, remembering damage throughout your lifetime both through solar radiation and other environmental factors. 

But that doesn’t mean you need to avoid the sun altogether, just understand that moderation is key. To help prevent both cancer and premature aging, it is essential to develop sun protection habits – the earlier, the better. Your skin should be protected from the sun’s radiation every day, whether it’s summer or not. UV radiation doesn’t take time off. Reach for a broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen with a high SPF (at least SPF30) like Eryfotona Actinica SPF 50+  or Eryfotona Ageless SPF 50 to be well-protected and help you prevent visible signs of photoaging. 

As we mentioned, UVB and UVA solar radiation affects both our DNA and the cells within the skin. With innovative products like Eryfotona, your sunscreen can also do more than protect you from radiation – it can help reverse its effects. Thanks to unique ingredient DNA Repairsomes, our Eryfotona sunscreens have been shown to help repair damage caused by the sun.

Repairing photodamage in the skin

As we mentioned, antioxidants are great at combating oxidative stress and, thus, photoaging. So if you’re looking to repair photoaging due to accumulated sun damage, products containing vitamin C and other antioxidants are a great choice. Serums, in particular, are simple methods for giving your skin the daily antioxidant care it deserves. Try a daily antioxidant serum like Flavo-C Ultraglican each morning or a night serum like Isdinceutics Melatonik™ which contains melatonin, an ingredient that acts as an indirect antioxidant to repair the skin at night.

Flavo-C ultraglican to combat photoaging

So while the process of photoaging may sound quite complicated, an anti-photoaging routine is actually quite simple. Adding sun protection and antioxidant ingredients to your regimen is your best bet for youthful-looking skin at any age!

Read more: how to create a complete photoaging routine

Sources and references:
Zhang, S., Duan, E. Fighting against Skin Aging: The Way from Bench to Bedside. In Cell Transplant (2018); 27(5): 729-738.
Naidoo, K., Birch-Machin, MA. Oxidative Stress and Ageing: The Influence of Environmental Pollution, Sunlight and Diet on Skin. In Cosmetics (2017): 4, 4.
Ahmad, R. Introductory Chapter: Basics of Free Radicals and Antioxidants. In Free Radicals, Antioxidants and Diseases (2018), IntechOpen
Flament et al. Effect of the sun on visible signs of aging in Caucasian skin. In Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigative Dermatology (2013); 6: 221-232.
Kiefer, J. Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation on DNA. In Obe G., Vijayalaxmi (eds) Chromosomal Alterations (2007). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
Pai, VV., Shukla, P., Kikkeri, NN. Antioxidants in dermatology. In Indian Dermatology Online Journal (2014) Apr-Jun; 5(2): 210-214.

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