Woman shielding her face from the sun with her hand.

There’s a lot to love about being out in the sun. You get your dose of , a , and a mood boost, among other things. But while enjoying these fun , you also need to be cautious of the harmful effects of UV radiation, which can significantly change how your skin ages.

How UV Radiation Can Affect the Skin

Prolonged exposure to UV rays – from the sun, , and LED lights for gel manicures – can cause more than just sunburn. The damage happens within the first minute of contact with bare skin and can manifest in various ways over time. And as the saying goes, knowing the threat is the first step in evading it. Read the long-term effects of UV radiation on the skin below.

It causes uneven pigmentation.

UV damage doesn’t always come with visible burns. When your skin is exposed to UV light, it tries to protect itself from further harm by triggering the melanocytes to ramp up melanin production. As melanin levels increase, the skin darkens, resulting in a tan or blotchy .

Just because you have a naturally darker skin tone doesn’t mean you can forgo sun protection. Everyone is susceptible to the harmful effects of UV radiation, regardless of skin color. The only difference is that pigmented marks may take longer to develop on than on pale skin.

It weakens the capillary walls.

Chronic and long-term UV radiation may be causing the spidery veins and minor bruising around your nose, cheeks, and chin. Sun exposure destroys the internal elastic lamina, the supportive coating within the walls of blood vessels. When this layer is ruptured, you may notice clusters of reddish, squiggles that look like minor bruising. Since UV rays also interfere with the skin’s ability to repair itself, these broken capillaries become more visible the more you spend time outdoors.

It thins out your lips.

As you age, will lose its fullness and definition. It’s a natural part of life. But this process can happen sooner than expected with excessive inflammation and oxidative stress – two harmful effects of UV radiation.

Inflammation causes the skin around your lips to become dehydrated, while oxidative stress damages the skin cells and leads to the breakdown of collagen. You might be tempted to pick at the chapped skin, but doing so can cause open sores and invite infection. Even worse, repeated injury to the lip has been linked to a higher risk of .

It accelerates aging.

Two types of UV light affect the skin: UVA and UVB.UVB has a shorter wavelength and is the main culprit behind sunburn. UVA is more insidious as it can penetrate glass and reach deeper into the dermis where it degrades the collagen fibers.

When your skin’s stock of collagen is depleted, your body produces more elastin, which triggers an abnormal amount of metalloproteinase, which are enzymes that work to rebuild damaged collagen but also break down healthy collagen if not regulated properly. This loss of collagen results in , rough textures, and

It increases your risk of skin cancer.

Out of all the harmful effects of UV radiation, skin cancer is the most concerning one. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause actinic keratosis (AK), a precancerous skin lesion that looks like a dried-up, scaly wound. If not removed by a dermatologist, it can progress to squamous cell carcinoma that can spread to other parts of the body. Studies have also found sun exposure is responsible for cases, a less common but more aggressive form of skin cancer.

Protect Yourself from the Harmful Effects of UV Radiation

Preventing sun damage is far easier and cheaper than treating it. Try to limit your outdoor activities during peak sun hours, between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you must go outside, seek shade whenever possible and wear protective clothing, like wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and UPF-rated jackets.

One step you shouldn’t miss is applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to exposed skin every day – rain or shine. Use POND'S UV Bright Sunscreen with SPF 50 PA ++++ for a radiant glow. If you have dry skin, opt for POND'S UV Hydrate Sunscreen with SPF 50 PA ++++, which also has Hyaluron for a glass skin finish. Remember to use a quarter-sized amount to cover your face and reapply every two hours!

There are some merits to spending time in the sun, but you should be aware of the harmful effects of UV radiation. The best route is to enjoy your time outdoors in moderation and take good care of your skin. So, wear your hat, get those sunnies, and put on lots of SPF – no ifs and buts.