Photoageing and the Glogau Scale

Photoageing and the Glogau Scale

You are my sunshine
In that, you may have damaged me
In ways I won’t know about for years to come

Do you ever look in the mirror and notice an uneven complexion or irregular pigmentation?

Or maybe you have signs of premature ageing, with loss of skin elasticity, especially around your jaw and décolleté?

Then chances are, these are the early beginnings of photoageing; an ambiguous-sounding word I know, which means your skin is damaged as a result of repeated exposure to ultraviolet light.

And it’s true of course, we are all ageing – but photo damaged skin is the most common and pervasive change of ageing I see in my clinic on a daily basis.

I would even go so far as to say that it is responsible for most of the skin changes that we think of as a normal part of ageing. This is especially true of UVA rays; after all, they’re not dubbed “the ageing ray” for nothing.

Read The Naked Truth below to learn how to treat photo damage.

Photo (Sun) Damaged Skin


  • The epidermis is plump and healthy
  • Crow’s feet form around the eyes
  • A few spider veins and age spots
  • Lines and wrinkles appear in natural creases from expression


  • Skin becomes sallow, with an almost yellow discolouration
  • Telangiectasias appear, which are small dilated capillaries
  • Lines appear in areas with no movement, such as the cheeks
  • Ealstosis – the destruction of elastic tissue occurs – this causes sagging, lines, and wrinkles
  • Discoloured areas of skin become apparent, which is referred to as “mottled pigmentation”
  • Skin’s texture changes, the skin becomes coarse, and the epidermis starts to thicken
  • Chromosomes (strands of DNA) in the skin cells get damaged, which increases precancerous actinic keratosis, and cancerous skin lesions such as melanoma
  • UV radiation causes free radicals: unstable oxygen molecules that damage cell function. These cause wrinkles by activating metalloproteinase, which breaks down collagen fibres – our internal scaffolding

The Glogau Classification

But how can you tell if your skin is damaged?

Fortunately, Dr. Richard Glogau came up with a classification system that helps people evaluate how aged their skin looks.

Recognising where you are on the scale is pretty straightforward.

It’s a really cool tool for helping you to evaluate your skin, which ultimately ensures that you are using the correct treatments and products.

Mild Photoageing

  • Type 1
  • Minimal pigment change
  • Keratosis is not yet visible
  • Little or no make up for coverage is required
  • This is typical of someone that is usually aged between 28-35
  • There are few, if any, wrinkles or scars present at this age

Moderage Photoageing

  • Type 2
  • The colour of the skin is sallow
  • Typically aged between 35-50
  • Keratosis is palpable but not visible
  • Some mild scarring is usually present
  • Smile lines may start to become visible
  • Skin type still requires a light cover up
  • Early signs of lines and wrinkles will be in motion, such as smile lines

Advanced Photoageing

  • Type 3
  • Typically aged between 50-65
  • Keratosis is now very present
  • The need to wear make up is more apparent
  • Obvious discolouration of the skin is evident
  • Wrinkles are now apparent, even when not smiling
  • Telangiectasias, often referred to as broken capillaries, are now very visible

Severe Photoageing

  • Type 4
  • Aged between 60-75
  • Sallow-yellow, greyish skin colour
  • Severe wrinkling throughout
  • Little to no sign of normal skin
  • Gravitational lines are apparent
  • Dynamic actinic keratosis, with or without skin cancer

Which type are you?

Sure, we are all going to start out in life as a TYPE 1, with smooth, unblemished, wrinkle-free skin.

But as we move in to our late twenties and mid thirties, we may notice a little smile line appear at the corner of the eyes or mouth, or a small brown spot appear out of nowhere. Welcome to TYPE 2.

A few years later and uh oh, that smile line is now really visible, and yet when you are no longer smiling, that line is still showing.

That faint brown spot is also becoming more obvious, this can only mean one thing: it’s TYPE 3.

All of a sudden, wrinkles seem to be appearing everywhere and your skin texture is super irregular.

Your skin appears sallow and very dry; all those years of sun worshipping and not knowing about damaging UVA rays are starting to haunt you.

It’s official: you are now TYPE 4.

The Naked Truth

Many of my clients and readers want to know how to treat their sun damaged skin, but sadly it’s not easy. Many lightening products come in the form of hydroquinone – an ingredient which has many guises.

Initial application of this ingredient appears promising, but it is misleading! Long-term usage will pull out even more melanin from the dermal junction to the surface.

According to Dr. Glogau, TYPE 1 and 2 should be all about protection, nourishment, and prevention. I always advocate using a good sunscreen; nothing too high, as the chemicals can damage your sensitive skin. An SPF 15 is enough, especially if you are using safe sun practices.

TYPE 3’s and 4’s can benefit from topical retinoids, peptides, and vitamins. You still want to have a good skincare routine in place, to keep your skin in a healthy condition, it just requires more TLC.

GLO Antioxidant Complex is a great place to begin to naturally lighten pigmentation. It’s full of natural free radical scavengers that mop up any damage done by ultraviolet rays, with Coenzyme Q10 and Vinanza grape lightening and brightening areas of pigmentation over time.

A+ Retinoid Complex is another product that you may want to consider, that is packed full of antioxidants and vitamin A. It helps to slow down visible signs of ageing by repairing cellular damage when our body’s restructure and renewal process is most active, at night.

In my opinion, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to maintaining youthful skin.

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