Spotting sun damaged skin is not always easy. Someone may have beautifully smooth, glowing skin while also having deadly skin cancer caused by sun damage. Other signs of sun damage are more apparent, such as sunburn, sunspots or dry, aging skin. If you are curious as to what sun damaged skin looks like, we are here to help you identify its signs and learn more about its causes.

How the Sun Damages Skin 

Safe exposure to the sun can help your body manufacture vitamin D, which is important for maintaining healthy bones. People who have higher levels of melanin (pigment) in their skin are able to tolerate longer sun exposure times than people with low levels of melanin because melanin protects the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. When melanin is unable to protect the skin, a sunburn occurs. Suntanning happens when the skin produces more melanin to protect itself as a response to receiving too much sun exposure. Ultimately, when too much UV exposure occurs, skin cells can become damaged or be killed, which can lead to premature aging and skin cancer over the course of time.

Most Common Signs of Sun Damage

Sun damage manifests itself in numerous ways—many, of which, are considered modern signs of beauty in some cultures. Learn more about what sun damaged skin looks like and what to do if you are concerned about your risk of developing skin cancer:


Suntans are signs that changes are occurring in the skin on a molecular level. They are your body’s natural defense response to being overexposed to sunlight and often appear together with freckles. Even though suntans are thought to be beautiful in some cultures, they are among the most common signs of sun damage that should be prevented.


Even though some cultures regard freckles as signs of beauty, they are actually signs of sun damage. These small, flat, circular spots usually develop in areas of the body that are regularly exposed to sunlight and are another form of pigment growth triggered by too much sun exposure. 


Also referred to as age spots or solar lentigines, these flat, oval areas of increased pigment can range from the size of a freckle to about a half-inch across. They occur after years of sun exposure when melanin becomes clumped or is produced in high concentrations. Sunspots can often look like cancerous growths, so it is important to monitor them closely for any suspicious changes.


While wrinkle development is a natural part of the aging process, it can happen too soon if the skin is damaged by the sun. Especially for people with light skin, sun exposure is a major cause of premature wrinkles because UV rays break down your skin’s connective tissue. Without the support of this connective tissue, the skin loses its strength and begins to sag and wrinkle. 

How to Heal Sun Damaged Skin 

At Harmony Healing, we routinely help patients nourish and replenish skin cells that have been damaged by sun overexposure. It is never too late to start taking care of your skin! Our goal for patients with sun damaged skin is to trigger the body’s natural skin healing response to grow new collagen and skin cells. Depending on your unique skin type and goals, we will develop a personalized plan combining multiple treatments, products and therapies that are customized to help you achieve your skin goals most efficiently. Our most popular treatments for sun damage include photorejuvenation (such as IPL or BBL), laser skin resurfacing, microdermabrasion, HALO™, SkinTyte™, ProFractional™ laser or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy.

Schedule your appointment at Harmony Healing to discover more about how to reverse sun damage. We would love to provide a skin analysis and develop a personalized plan to help you turn back the hands of time.