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 fine lines and crows feet?

Or maybe your complexion is uneven and dark spots, or irregular pigmentation is a concern?

Or you have early signs of premature ageing, especially loss of skin elasticity around your jaw and décolleté.

These are all telltale sign of photo ageing – which means your skin is damaged as a result of repeated exposure to ultraviolet light.

Whilst it’s true we’re all ageing, photodamaged skin is the most common and pervasive change of ageing we see in our clinic.

We’d probably 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’ve not dubbed “the ageing ray” for nothing.



  • the epidermis is plump and healthy
  • crow’s feet from around the eyes
  • a few spider veins and age spots
  • lines and wrinkles appear in natural creases from the expression.


  • skin becomes sallow, with almost yellow discolouration.
  • Telangiectasias appear, which are small dilated capillaries.
  • Lines appear in areas with no movement, such as the cheeks.
  • elastosis – 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

So how can you tell if your skin is damaged? Fortunately, Dr Richard Glogau came up with a classification system that helps you evaluate how aged your skin looks.

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. Recognising where you are on the scale is pretty straightforward.

Mild Photo ageing

  • type 1
  • minimal pigment change
  • keratosis is not yet visible
  • little or no makeup 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

Moderate Photo ageing

  • type 2
  • crows feet may appear around the eyes
  • the colour of the skin is becoming dull and 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 Photo ageing

  • type 3
  • typically aged between 50-65
  • keratosis is now very present
  • the need to wear makeup 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 Photo ageing

  • 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
  • skin is very dull and dry
  • dynamic actinic keratosis, with or without skin cancer

Which type are you?

Sure, we are all going to start in life as a TYPE 1, with smooth, unblemished, wrinkle-free skin, but as we move into 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 appears out of nowhere. Welcome to TYPE 2.

A few years later and uh oh, that smile line is now obvious, 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.


Many of our 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, and whilst the initial application appears promising, it is misleading. Long-term usage pulls out even more melanin from the dermal junction to the surface, so it is really best to avoid products with this ingredient in.

According to Dr Glogau, Type 1 and 2 should be all about protection, nourishment, and prevention. We always advocate using a good sunscreen; nothing too high, as the chemicals, can damage your sensitive skin.

Type 3’s and 4’s can benefit from topical retinoids, peptides, and vitamins, chemical peels to remove stubborn skin cells that adhere to the surface of the skin.

Obviously having e a good skincare routine in place, to keep your skin in a healthy condition, is super important.

GLO Antioxidant Complex is a great place to begin to lighten pigmentation naturally. 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 and immortelle are products that you may want to consider, that is packed full of antioxidants and vitamin A. Both of which help to slow down visible signs of ageing by repairing cellular damage.

We recommend also using formulas with skin-identical ingredients to replenish your skin, like Fortify barrier repair cream, containing ceramides, lipids and cholesterol that deplete as we age.

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

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