Retinoids are a topical, over-the-counter formulation of vitamin A, which is widely used to treat a variety of skin conditions. However, retinoids come with a few associated side effects, including increased sun sensitivity. To ensure safety and wellbeing, it’s important to understand the risks associated with retinoid use and how to protect your skin from sun damage.
What Are Retinoids?
Retinoids are a term used to describe vitamin A derivatives that are used as prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter products. These formulations of vitamin A are primarily seen as beneficial for improving the look and condition of skin. Retinoids can help reduce signs of aging, clear up breakouts, and even lighten dark spots. Some of the most popular retinoids include tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene.
What Is Retinoid Sun Sensitivity?
Due to the nature of retinoid products, there is a risk of sun sensitivity. This is particularly true when using prescription medications, which normally contain higher concentrations of retinoids. When using retinoid products, there are a few specific risks associated with sun exposure, including:
- Skin Redness – Due to the active ingredients in retinoids, your skin can become more sensitive to sunlight, resulting in more redness and irritation.
- Sunburn – Retinoid products can make the skin more susceptible to sunburns from even moderate amounts of sun exposure.
- Increased Aging – Retinoids can make the skin more vulnerable to sun damage, which can lead to more accelerated aging.
Protection from Sun Damage
If you are using a retinoid for any type of skin concern, it’s important to protect your skin from sun damage. To ensure the best protection, you should:
- Wear Sunscreen – It’s extremely important to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every single morning prior to leaving your home. Reapply throughout the day, if you’re going to be out in the sun for extended periods of time.
- Wear Protective Clothing – Wearing a hat and other protective clothing when out in the sun can help to minimize direct exposure. This is particularly important if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors.
- Limit Sun Exposure – Try to minimize your time in the sun, especially during peak hours, to help minimize sun exposure.
Retinoids are an extremely powerful and effective way to treat a variety of skin conditions. However, it’s important to understand that they can make the skin more sensitive to sun exposure. To remain safe, it’s best to always wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, wear protective clothing when outdoors, and limit sun exposure. By taking these important steps, you can help protect your skin from both sunburns and more accelerated aging that can be caused by sun exposure.