The summer season is now on, and everyone’s heading to the beach to cool down. Though everyone loves this season, long-term sun exposure can take a toll on the skin. Excessive sweating and too much exposure to the sun can damage the skin, which can cause short-term effects like sunburn, or long-term skin issues such as photoaging.  

In this blog, we will discuss how sun exposure damages the skin. From there, we’ve rounded up some tips on how to prepare your skin for summer.  

But first, let’s discuss the effects of sun exposure on the skin.  

Skin damage from sun exposure 

The skin utilizes sunlight to help produce vitamin D, which is crucial for normal bone formation, immune health, and even cardiovascular health. However, there’s a downside. The sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV-A and UV-B) can cause sunburn. When these rays enter the skin cells, they can impact the skin’s growth and appearance.  

The skin has three layers – the epidermis, dermis, and subcutis. The dermis or second layer contains elastin, collagen, and other fibers that provide support to the skin’s structure. These elements work together to make the skin young-looking, smooth, and elastic.  

When the skin is exposed to the sun for long periods, ultraviolet radiation affects the skin’s layers. The two types of UV rays – ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB), damage the skin’s DNA. From there, the skin cells in the dermis layer immediately produce melanin in the epidermis to prevent further damage. In the process, the skin becomes darker as it attempts to block the radiation to penetrate further.  

The UVB rays are shorter and cause sunburn, while the UVA rays are longer so they penetrate the skin and cause photoaging. When the UVA rays reach the dermis, it triggers an abnormal production of elastin, causing the synthesis of enzymes called metalloproteinases. These enzymes work by rebuilding damaged collagen but can go haywire and malfunction. As a result, collagen is degraded causing an incorrectly built skin.  

Repeated and long-term exposure to the sun can lead to the formation of wrinkles and leathery skin due to the decreased amount of collagen. 

Long-term sun exposure causes a multitude of skin issues, including: 

  • Skin cancer  

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells. The most common cause of this type of cancer is sun exposure. In the Philippines, about 1 out of 50 Filipinos will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their life. The good thing is, that it can be easily treated at an early stage. 

  • Photoaging 

Photoaging is the premature aging of the skin due to long-term exposure to the sun’s damaging rays. This condition causes wrinkled less elastic, and thinner skin. People who regularly sunbathe under the sun show signs of photoaging before the age of 30. Some of the early photoaging signs include fine wrinkling, freckling, and dilation of capillaries.  

How to prepare your skin for summer 

The most effective way to protect yourself against the damaging effects of the sun, particularly during summer, is to limit exposure and protect your skin.  

  • Use sunscreen 

Sunscreens protect the skin and block ultraviolet rays from the sun. The higher the SPF, the more it can protect against UV rays. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher and reapplying every two hours.  

  • Plan your exposure 

The sun’s harmful rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. As much as possible, limit your exposure to the sun during these hours. If you need to go out during this time, make sure to wear the recommended sunscreen and use protective clothing.  

  • Wear protective clothing 

If you’re going outdoors on a hot day, wear protective clothing like a long-sleeved shirt, a wide-brimmed hat, pants, and sunglasses.  

  • Hydrate and moisturize daily 

When the days are hotter, you expect that the skin will lose moisture faster. Prevent dry skin by drinking lots of water and applying a moisturizer. It’s recommended to apply lotion and moisturizers as soon as you step out of the shower. You can also use the Nourishing Night Oil enriched with vitamin E at night.  

For hydrating agents for the skin, hyaluronic acid is a good skincare product to use.  

  • Exfoliate 

Exfoliation is an important step to rejuvenate the skin, making it glow. During hot summer days, exfoliation can help keep the skin smooth, radiant, and smoother.  

  • Skip the makeup 

During the summer, try to tone down a little with your makeup. Wearing heavy makeup as a replacement for sunscreen can damage the skin.  

  • Deal with breakouts 

Blemishes can occur all year round, but heat, sun, and humidity can trigger a perfect pimple storm. The oil glands, especially on the face, are very active in warmer climates. The more oil there is, the more prone the skin is to breakouts. Make sure to deal with breakouts before heading outdoors.  

  • Cleanse morning and night 

The humid climate can make the skin sticky and greasy. Cleanse the face during the day and at night to make sure it’s clean, smooth, and oil-free. Do this routine during the summer, since this season is when breakouts and blemishes can occur out of control.  


The summer season is the most awaited time of the year. Though the skin needs ample vitamin D for strong bones, teeth, and immune systems, extended exposure can cause skin issues. Avoid damaging your skin by preparing it before heading out under the sun. These guidelines can help you take care of your skin before it becomes too late.  

Article reviewed by Dr. Zharlah G. Flores, MD, FPDS