Summer is coming to its official end. There’s a chill in the air, the days are getting shorter, and we’re starting to see signs of the long-awaited arrival of Pumpkin. Spice. Everything.
We trade swimsuits for scarves and think back fondly on all those fun in the sun summer memories.
But what if those memories are written all over your face?
Dark spots and melasma.
New little lines and wrinkles.
Sagging and (gasp!) aging!
Sun damage. It happens to the best of us. When we forget to wear daily sunscreen (something I know you would never do), are having too much fun and forget to reapply, or leave our wide-brimmed hats in the car, it can damage skin and add years to our faces.
Are there products that can reverse or treat facial sun damage?
Ladies, if summer left your face a little more than sun-kissed, I’ve got your back. Today I’m going to show you some ways to treat those telltale signs of summer so you can save your skin and enjoy the sun for years to come!
How Sun Damage Occurs
While the sun does help our bodies produce vitamin D, and provide us with the ideal magazine-flipping-lazy-napping setting, too much of it can lead to wrinkles, sagging, discoloration or even risks of skin cancer.
So, let’s break it down. The sun puts out UVA and UVB radiation, both of which penetrate your skin’s layers: the epidermis (top layer) and the dermis (deeper layer). Your skin produces melanin as a defense to absorb UV radiation, and this is where you get your lovely glowing tan. But, when UVB exposure exceeds your skin’s protection ability, that’s where you run into problems and get into sunburn country.
UVA rays penetrate into the deep layer, the dermis, where your skin’s collagen and elasticity lives. When this layer gets attacked by sun damage, free radicals are released and cause harm to your skin cells’ DNA. The result is saggy skin, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation (dark spots and melasma), and potential risk of skin cancer. Our faces are especially vulnerable because the skin is delicate, and our faces are always exposed.
Sun damage is also cumulative, which means it builds up over time starting when you were just a cute little water baby. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that your skin has already experienced almost half its UV exposure by the time you’re 40 years old!
With two little ones, you better believe I’ve always got them slathered in sunscreen to start their sun protection early!
The good news? You can take steps now to stop any future damage from occurring.
What can I do to help my sun damaged mug?
While you can’t really undo the damage that has occurred on a cellular level, you can certainly take steps to heal skin, treat signs of aging, and prevent any future damage. Sunny days should be enjoyed, so let’s see what you can do to protect your skin and give it a little TLC!
Stop Damage Now
One of the best things you can do for your skin is to start protecting it today and stop any future damage from occurring. Just remember the 3 S’s of Sun Protection:
- SPF – If you learn nothing else from me, remember this: Wear your daily SPF! Everyday. Even on cloudy days. Even on cold, wintery days. Studies show that people who wear a daily SPF of 15 or higher show 24% less skin aging than those who don’t use sunscreen every day. Remember to apply your broad spectrum SPF at least 20 minutes before sun exposure to allow it to absorb into skin, and reapply every 2 hours if you’re in direct sun, or after sweating or swimming. And, don’t skimp! You should use a nickel-sized dollop on your face, and 1 oz. on your body (that’s enough to fill a shot glass!) Slather on that goodness, your future skin will thank you!
- Schedule – Try to plan activities so you’re not in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm when the UV index is at its highest. It can be tough to avoid that window since it is in the middle of the day, but you’ll also beat the heat and the crowds if it’s an outdoor event. If you simply can’t avoid it, make sure to wear SPF, bring extra to reapply, and limit sun exposure
- Shade – Speaking of limiting sun exposure, kickin back in the shade is a good way to help protect skin. Rock a wide-brimmed hat, open up an umbrella, or take a sun break and cool down in the shade especially at peak UV hours. There’s even a phone app that will remind you when to reapply SPF and when it’s time to get out of the sun. A good rule of thumb is, “Short shadow seek shade,” meaning the shorter the shadows on the ground, the higher the sun and UV exposure. Grab a cool drink and enjoy having it made in the shade!
There are two types of exfoliants: physical (the ones that use little granules to scrub away dead skin cells) and chemical (which gently dissolve dead skin cells). Using a chemical exfoliant is a great way brighten your complexion by getting rid of those dead, darkened skin cells that hang around and cause your skin to look blotchy and uneven.
Look For: A formula that includes glycolic acid or natural fruit enzymes. And, don’t overdo it or you could end up damaging your skin’s protective layer, and it won’t add more glow to your gorgeous face. 1-3 times per week is plenty!
Lighten Up Dark Spots
There are cute summer freckles which can make us look youthful and carefree (did you know people are even applying fake freckles?!), and then there’s dark patches and age spots, which can make us look……less than youthful. Stop those spots in their tracks by applying a product formulated to halt the overproduction of melanin.
Look For: A product that contains Kojic acid and/or Retinol, both of which work to exfoliate and remove the upper layers of skin and lift out dark patches. There are also other natural lightening ingredients such as licorice root, citrus and mulberry extracts, all of which work to inhibit melanin production.
Pro tip: Skin may be sensitive when first using these products, so start by applying just a couple times a week. They can also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so it’s recommended that you use them at night or when you don’t plan on hitting up the farmer’s market.
Get Your Antioxidants
Antioxidants are a sun damage superhero because they go and in help block the effects of free radicals which are the bad guys that break down collagen and elasticity and bring on skin sagging and wrinkles.
Look For: A moisturizer or serum that includes vitamin C to help rebuild collagen and firm skin. You can also help repair skin from the inside by eating an antioxidant-rich diet full of delicious, skin-boosting foods. A fruit salad is my go-to after-beach treat!
Heat and sun not only zap skin’s moisture, they also make wrinkles more apparent, especially around your eyes where skin is delicate and lines really show (remember all that squinting you did in the sun?) You should definitely remember to hydrate from the inside by drinking plenty of water. But, you can also heal skin’s outer layers by applying a rich moisturizer or serum.
Look For: Formulas that include vitamins C and E, which will help boost collagen production, and hyaluronic acid to bind moisture to skin and lock it in. These will work together to hydrate and plump skin to fill in fine lines.
My Top Picks to Treat Sun Damage
Here are some of my favorite products to help care for your skin and diminish the signs of all those “just 15 more minutes” moments!
Of course you should be wearing your daily SPF, and this is one of my faves! This moisturizing formula includes antioxidants to help fight free radical damage. It’s mineral based, which means it provides broad spectrum UVA/B protection using Zinc Oxide rather than chemicals. This makes it great for even those with sensitive skin, and none of that painful eye burning! It goes on silky smooth and won’t leave behind any annoying white residue. Plus it’s tinted to give you sheer coverage, perfect for everyday use!
This lovely 2-in-1 gently exfoliates skin using lactic and hydroxy acids to remove dead skin cells and give you a smooth, even complexion. It also acts as a facial treatment mask to infuse skin with nourishing moisture. Make this dual action formula your perfect end to a day in the sun.
You get a lot of skin love out of these handy little pads. Glycolic acid and Retinol work together to smooth skin’s surface and encourage new cell turnover. They also lift away age spots and smooth fine lines and wrinkles, so you’re left with youthful, radiant skin!
This powerful complex features retinol which prevents melanin production to fight dark spots and hyperpigmentation as well as build collagen to reduce wrinkles. Glycolic acid gently exfoliates away dead skin to promote the growth of new, healthy cells. This formula has got you covered to fight sun damage and signs of aging!
Give your skin its daily dose of vitamin C and antioxidants with my rich daily moisturizer! I’m so excited to bring you this formula that uses the power of vitamin C to fight fine lines and wrinkles and boost collagen. It also includes hyaluronic acid to deliver deep moisture to skin. And, I created it so even those with sensitive skin can enjoy it!
This delightful treatment includes ingredients to effectively exfoliate skin to remove dead skin cells and encourage new cell turnover. It also delivers antioxidants deep into skin’s layers to fight free radical damage. Plus, it lightens darks spots and corrects hyperpigmentation to give you an even, glowing complexion.
If you thought acai berries were just for bowls, think again! This wonderful moisturizer packs an antioxidant punch that fights free radical damage and signs of aging by toning and firming skin and encouraging new cell turnover and healing. It also soothes inflammation and irritation, so your skin is nourished and vibrant.
Moisture is the name of the game with this boosting serum! I created this formula using hyaluronic acid to grab moisture and bind it to skin to boost its hydration by 10x! Skin is plumped, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and left luxuriously moisturized and refreshed!
Laying back in the sun is such a great way to spend the day, but it can leave behind some pesky effects on our skin. While you can absolutely treat and care for these signs of aging, remember they are only skin deep and there could be further damage, so make sure you’re staying on top of your skin health by getting yearly skin screenings and mole checks.
Otherwise, sport your daily SPF, kick back in the shade, and enjoy what’s left of these beautiful summer days!
What are some of your favorite ways to help skin recover from the summer? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comments section!