If you’re like most people, you spent at least a few of your summer days at the beach, by the pool, or enjoying a vacation somewhere sunny. And while you likely made some great memories during those summer days, that extra sun exposure may have caused damage to your face and body.
“UVA/UVB rays can be more intense in the summertime,” explains Dr. Dendy Engelman, a New York-based board-certified dermatologist who treats celebrities like Sofia Vergara. “Incidental sun exposure for only 10-15 minutes a day adds up over time and can cause significant sun damage and accelerated photoaging, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles. UV damage accumulates over your lifetime.”
Luckily, there are treatments your dermatologist can do to help undo summer sun damage, including discoloration and dark spots caused by the sun. Exfoliation will help shed old or damaged skin cells and reveal newer, brighter skin underneath. “Chemical peels are great for accelerating cellular turnover and helping remove dark spots caused by the sun,” Dr. Engelman says. “I like glycolic acid, retinol, and mandelic acid peels best. Cost ranges from $150-300 per peel in New York City.”
Another method to turn back time on your sun exposure is intense pulsed light treatment. “IPL is great for targeting summer sun damage. Not only does it target hyperpigmentation and sun spots, but it also stimulates collagen and is anti-aging,” Dr. Engelman explains. In NYC, the cost of IPL ranges from $400-800 per treatment.
Of course, prevention is always the best tactic, and sunscreen isn’t just for summer. “You should wear SPF 365 days a year (and 366 on leap years),” Dr. Engelman advises. “The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends daily use of sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. Using a high SPF sunscreen can reduce the accumulation of chronic UV damage that is linked to non-melanoma skin cancer and aging. Look for zinc oxide if you want to only use natural ingredients.”
You can also help minimize and treat sun damage with oral supplements. “Helioplex is a natural product that helps to decrease and repair inflammation caused by sun exposure,” Dr. Engelman says. “This oral antioxidant can work in conjunction with topical antioxidants and SPF to provide full free radical damage prevention.”
“Oral supplements can help to support the body’s natural production through being absorbed through the bloodstream, supporting underlying layers first,” she explains. “The idea is that the actives are absorbed into the bloodstream, which reaches the foundational layers of the skin, providing support from the inside out.”
If you do suffer from a sunburn, there are a few natural ways to help heal your skin. “After a sunburn, when skin is in repair mode, a collagen supplement will help to expedite the healing process,” Dr. Engelman says. “I like pills and powders because they are easy to incorporate no matter what your lifestyle.” She also recommends using apple cider vinegar to help soothe sunburned skin. Add a cup of apple cider vinegar to a bath, soak for 10 minutes, then apply a 1% hydrocortisone cream to help relieve the burn.
As summer draws to a close and temperatures begin to fall, consider changing your skincare routine accordingly to add more moisture. “When it’s cold, there is less moisture in the environment,” Dr. Engelman explains. “Then you compound that by wind and central heating which further lessens the moisture. In this state, water is lost from the skin cells (keratinocytes) leaving skin dry, flaky, chapped. So unfortunately, there isn’t one offender, but rather they equally contribute to the condition.”
But there are some methods you can use to combat dry skin. “Turning the heat down, using a humidifier, and moisturizing often, especially if you’re constantly washing hands to avoid getting sick,” she recommends. Look for humectants, such as hyaluronic acids, urea, and occlusive agents to lock in moisture.
When it comes to keeping your skin hydrated during fall and winter, layer up. “Instead of reaching for the heaviest cream, it is more beneficial to apply different layers of products to provide multiple barriers,” Dr. Engelmen concludes. “I tell my patients this rule: ointments are more hydrating than creams; creams are more hydrating than lotions. So depending on the area and dryness, this can help guide as to which product to look for.”
Here’s to keeping your skin hydrated and protected all year long.