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Summer Recovery

By Leslie Baumann
Posted On Nov 30, 2011

Has summer left your skin dry, discolored and with more lines? Here’s how to erase sun damage.

Despite our best efforts to shield our skin from harmful UV rays all summer, we often find ourselves with symptoms of sun damage come fall. From freckles and other discolorations to fine lines and rough texture, sun damage can happen to even the most diligent sunscreen users. Blame it on insufficient sunscreen, inadequate SPF or a product that doesn’t off er broadspectrum protection.

Fortunately, sun damage is reversible. The first step is to use at least SPF 30 every day, rain or shine. But when prevention just isn’t cutting it, here are some other ways to restore your skin’s youthful vigor.

Skin Care Products

Skin-lightening and brightening products are more popular than ever, with a slew of potent active ingredients that can help fade discoloration and give you a more even complexion. Over the counter, look for kojic acid, licorice extract or arbutin, which can deliver results over a few months time.

One new product that I’m especially excited about is called Elure. Available at doctors’ offi ces, this line includes a day cream and night cream, and features a first-of-its kind ingredient called Melanozyme. Elure is diff erent from other skin-lightening products because of its enzyme-based active ingredient that actually breaks up existing pigment (with visible results in about a month), whereas other ingredients work by preventing pigment from forming or making it to the surface of the skin. Elure most likely works best when combined with a skin lightener like hydroquinone and a retinoid.

Hydroquinone is available over the counter, but you can get stronger formulations by prescription from your doctor. Long considered the gold standard for lightening skin tone, studies have shown that hydroquinone works even better when used in conjunction with a retinoid like tretinoin (available by prescription).

Antioxidants are a vital component of any skin care regimen, and some even work double duty by shielding skin from damage and helping to fade pigment. Vitamin C has been proven to fight free radicals and have a brightening eff ect on the skin—but not all vitamin C products are created equal since the base must be acidic in order for the vitamin to penetrate the skin, which can mean stinging or burning for sensitive types. (I like iS Clinical Super Serum Advance+.) It’s also important to avoid mixing vitamin C with other ingredients like hydroquinone, glycolic acid and retinols, so I recommend using antioxidants in the morning and using other treatment products at night.

Regular exfoliation can also help refi ne the skin’s surface. A skin care brush like the Clarisonic gently sloughs off dull, damaged cells, and products with exfoliating acids (such as glycolic, lactic and salicylic) help with fi ne lines and mild discoloration.

In-Office Treatments

When used in tandem, skin care and office-based treatments can help improve skin tone and texture even faster. Treatments with no downtime, like superficial chemical peels, may work well, and light-based treatments can provide more dramatic results. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is effective for lightening areas of pigment and redness over a series of treatments, and there are a variety of deeper laser treatments that resurface skin revealing a fresh, healthy surface.

When you decide to do something about sun damage, your first step should be to review your skin care regimen. If you’re unsure whether you’re using the right ingredients, take our quiz at SkinTypeSolutions.com.  en, talk to your dermatologist. Together, you can come up with a plan of attack that works with your skin type, budget, lifestyle and desired results—for a more even, radiant complexion before you know it.