How to Triumph Over Sun Damage on Skin: Signs & How to Easily Reverse Them

Just in case you may have missed the memo, sun exposure is the number one cause of premature ageing on the skin. It’s even more harmful than smoking and pollution - and causes telltale signs of sun damage on skin that other external stressors don’t necessarily leave!

The tricky thing with sun damage is that it can take a while for it to appear - and by the time it’s obvious, it’s too late to completely reverse the damage done. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to be done about it - we’ve got a list of our 6 favourite skincare ingredients that can help with the look of sun damage on skin.

As we all know, the number one reason to avoid sun damage is to minimise our risk of skin cancer - this blog post is only here to discuss how sun damage impacts the appearance of our skin, and not how to tell if you’ve got skin cancer. If you have any concerns you’ll need to talk to your GP instead - not us! 

Too much UV exposure can have some serious negative impacts on your skin, and especially so if you’ve tanned or burned perhaps more than you should. Here are 6 signs of sun damage on skin to look out for!

6 Signs of Sun Damage on Skin

The tricky thing with sun-damaged skin is that in some cases, topical skincare ingredients can only do so much. The easiest signs of sun damage to treat are uneven skin tone, while some of the hardest can be loss of volume and changes in skin texture. Read through this list of signs of sun-damaged skin to check if any of these seem familiar!

1) Blotchy, Uneven Skin Tone

This is one of the most common signs of sun damage to skin - skin tends to look dull and has a lack of radiance, thanks to some parts of your face looking darker for no apparent reason. Uneven skin tone can also manifest as persistent pigmentation that doesn’t fade away, long after the original pimple has healed and disappeared. 

Sisley Sisleÿa L'Intégrale Anti-Âge Serum product image on white backgroundSisley All Day All Year Essential Anti-Aging Day Care
This two-in-one lightweight serum and sun protection fluid shields skin from the harmful rays of the sun. 

2) Wrinkles That Have Appeared Too Soon

This refers to the textbook ‘premature signs of ageing’. While wrinkles are a totally natural part of the ageing process, they can appear too soon due to sun damage - UV light depletes your skin of collagen stores faster than they should, and after enough time, these collagen stores can’t rebuild fast enough to prevent the appearance of wrinkles. 

3) Lack of Volume in Skin

Another side effect of UV light exposure is loss of volume in skin - to put it simply, this refers to how skin looks less full as collagen stores decrease, whether that’s due to the natural aging process or sped up due to sun exposure and sun damage. 

La Mer the reparative skin tint spf 30La Mer The Reparative Skin Tint SPF 30
This makeup and sunscreen combo from La Mer infuses skin with the power of fermented algae extract to soothe and protect skin.

4) Patches of Thick, Rough Skin

In cases where skin has been repeatedly exposed to the sun, thick, rough patches might develop - in men, these can commonly appear on the nose thanks to a combined habit of perhaps not putting on enough sunscreen and the fact that as a high point on the face, noses tend to sunburn easily. 

5) Red, Rosacea-Like Flushing

Besides sunburn, did you know that persistent sun damage can cause your skin to look red, even if you’re not necessarily sunburned? Yep - the sun damages your natural acid mantle, allowing eternal irritations unfettered access to our delicate skin, causing redness and irritation.

One more way sun-damaged skin appears redder than healthy skin is through capillary damage - the sun damages capillaries in your skin, critical (but tiny) blood vessels that help to ensure your skin is healthy and has good circulation. When these blood vessels become damaged, they dilate or expand, permanently becoming more visible than they should and making your skin look redder than it should. 

elizabeth arden retinol ceramide capules line erasing night serum product image on white backgroundElizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum
A potent serum that combines the power of Retinol, Ceramides, and Peptides to reverse the signs of ageing and sun damage.

6) Enlarged Pores

This concern is closely linked to loss of volume in the skin, and that’s because they’re caused by the same problem - breakdown of collagen. Collagen works as a crucial support system in your skin, giving it firmness, bounce and structure.

When it gets broken down, pores can look stretched or enlarged due to the lack of support and tightness that would normally be there! As a result, larger, stretched out pores are associated with sun-damaged skin - and unfortunately, no amount of gentle cleansing will help minimise their appearance. 

Best Skincare Ingredients for Skin With Sun Damage

The good news? There’s always something you can do about sun damage to skin - many skincare ingredients help to target skin concerns related or even caused by sun exposure. Here are our top 6 favourite skincare ingredients for sun damaged skin.


The most crucial one has to be sunscreen - a well-formulated, SPF50 sunscreen blocks 97% of UV rays! Protecting your skin from the sun in the first place goes a long way to preventing any existing sun damage from worsening as well as stopping any more from appearing in the first place! So if you haven’t started a daily sunscreen habit already, the best time is now - and yes, you should be using sunscreen all year round

declare sun sensitive anti-wrinkle sun cream SPF 50 product image on white backgroundDeclaré Sun Sensitive Anti-Wrinkle Sun Cream SPF 50+
For even better sun protection, layer a facial sunscreen like this underneath your favourite skin tint or foundation with SPF!


If there’s only one other category of skincare ingredients that you reach for (other than sunscreen of course!), make sure it’s this one - antioxidants. Antioxidants have the unique power to protect skin from free radicals - the molecules through which UV rays wreak havoc on your skin. 

Not only can antioxidants protect your skin from these pesky, harmful molecules - many antioxidants, especially Retinol and Vitamin C, can help to soften signs of sun damage thanks to their collagen-boosting and skin-brightening abilities. 


When it comes to a skincare ingredient that does it all, you can’t go past niacinamide - this famous member of the B Vitamin family is a superstar when it comes to supporting a healthy moisture barrier (which fortifies your skin against the sun), evening out blotchy skin tones, and ensuring that your skin is as healthy as possible to heal from sun damage.

Sample available - try this today!
This serum from SK-II fortifies skin with a blend of Niacinamide, Peptides, and SK-II’s unique Pitera™ to soften the signs of sun damage on skin.


Retinol’s ability to speed up your skin cell turnover makes it a valuable skin care ingredient in the fight against sun damage on skin! Increasing turnover means retinol is incredibly effective at fading uneven skin tone caused by sun damage, as well as working hard to diminish the appearance of any premature fine lines and wrinkles by kick-starting your skin’s collagen production. 


There’s a reason why so many luxury brands like SK-II, La Mer, Estée Lauder, and Lancôme feature fermented skincare ingredients in their products: they’re amazing. Skincare ferments can - you guessed it - help with sun-damaged skin by brightening any uneven, blotchy areas and supporting your skin’s natural renewal abilities. They’re able to condition and soften skin, boosting hydration which is essential to helping your skin bounce back from excess UV light exposure. 

Lancome Advanced Genifique youth activating serum product image on white backgroundLancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate
This serum from Lancôme uses the combined power of Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, and special fermented skincare ingredients to nourish skin and replenish lost radiance due to sun damage.


There’s a lot that peptides can do for skin - these tiny messengers can signal to your skin to produce more collagen, partially making up for any volume loss caused by sun damage to skin. This also means that peptides can help to soften any premature wrinkles on sun-damaged skin - by increasing collagen levels, peptides may help fill out fine lines and wrinkles from within, restoring a youthful glow.

If any of the signs of sun damage on skin sound familiar, our list of ultra-effective skincare ingredients should help. If you’re trying to create your perfect skincare routine, try our skin care quiz!

Beauty Affairs Skin Quiz

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