Summer has flown by, way too quickly for my taste. While the long, warm sunny days have done wonders for your mood, they probably have been not so kind on your skin.Summer has flown by, way too quickly for my taste. While the long, warm sunny days have done wonders for your mood, they probably have been not so kind on your skin. You may generally be very conciensius about sun exposure, but wasn’t there that one weekend or maybe two weekends, when you couldn’t resist working on a sexy tan. Or how about that week when it was so hot and muggy that just the thought of applying sunscreen made you shudder.
Let’s face it: September is the time to take a long, hard look in the mirror and acknowledge that you may have to do some repair work here and there. The bad news is sun damage occurs quite easily and effortlessly: On the way to the subway, sitting in an outdoor cafÃ©, or simply because you forgot to reapply sunscreen often enough. The good news is that these days, thanks to advances in skincare and dermatology, there are viable and affordable options to truly reverse some damage and improve the look and health of your skin.
Where do you start?
Whether you should consult a dermatologist and receive professional treatment depends on how bad your sun damage is. If you have been good about sun protection most of the time, you can improve your skin significantly with over-the-counter remedies available at specialty and drug stores. If you find your sun damage and premature aging worse than what your peers have, you should consult a dermatologist and opt for professional treatment.
A tell-tale sign of sun damage is mottled pigmentation. Peels will help soften dark spots to a certain degree because they promote cell turn-over, but additional treatment is advisable.
Peels, peels, peels
Freeing your skin of dead, dull, sun damaged skin is the first step to an improved appearance. There are a number of at-home peels with alpha hydroxy acids available, which not only get rid of old skin, but also stimulate better cell turn over and collagen production. MD Skincare’s “Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel”($70 for 35 pieces, available at www.dermstore.com) is one option to give yourself an easy and safe peel at home. Alpha and beta hydroxy acids rid the skin of its top layer, revealing a new, more radiant complexion. Bonus: beta hydroxy acid is another term for salicylic acid, which fights acne and clears pores. This means, if you are suffering from seasonal/ post-sun exposure break-outs, these peel pads will help you clear your skin of break-outs as well.
Another at-home-peel option is “glycolic king” Glytone’s “Mini Peel Gel” ($50 for 2 oz, available at www.dermstore.com). This gel can be purchased either alone or as part of a whole system kit for 2 skin types, normal to dry and normal to oily, and is entirely based on glycolic acid, a type of alpha hydroxyl acid. Each kit ($132) contains a glycolic face wash, a moisturizing facial lotion, and exfoliating lotion, and the mini peel gel. The idea is that you “bathe” your skin in glycolic acid through multiple steps, therefore accelerating results. If that sounds too scary, the Mini Peel Gel alone renders noticeable results as well.
A tell-tale sign of sun damage is mottled pigmentation. Peels will help soften dark spots to a certain degree because they promote cell turn-over, but additional treatment is advisable. So called “brightening” products have existed on the market, but the recent controversy surrounding hydroquinone, an aggressive chemical bleaching agent, has prompted new products to enter the market, that promise potent skin brightening properties with more gentle ingredients. Bremenn Research Labs introduced its 100% hydroquinone-free “Facial Brightener” ($90 for 3 oz, available at www.sephora.com), a light lotion, which claims to reduce skin discoloration and uneven skin tone with botanicals agents such as rice bran extract and tea extracts. Bonus: The fast-absorbing lotion contains luminizing pigments and minerals that immediately light up your complexion upon application. Brand new on the market is also Klein-Becker’s “Amatokin Emulsion For the Face” ($173 for 1 oz, available at www.blissworld.com), which in addition to reducing lines and wrinkles is said to have skin lightening properties. The product uses stem-cell technology harnessing the regenerative potential of your own facial stem cells. One of the key ingredients contained is a polypeptide which prompts your skin to utilize its own stem cells to reduce signs of aging. This polypeptide was developed in Russia in a quest to find better topical solutions for bum victims. Since I have not tried this product (yet), I can’t vouch for its effectiveness, but at $173, it better work!
Reduce lines & wrinkles
Products that treat uneven skin tone usually also have anti-wrinkle benefits. If you have found a product, that has helped you even out your skin tone, chances are, it is also reducing lines and wrinkles (hydroquinone-based products are an exception).
Still, I would like to point out one new product that is formulated specifically to target lines and wrinkles, Peter Thomas Roth’s “Un-Wrinkle” serum ($120 for 1 oz, available at www.sephora.com). Its ingredient list is impressive: Six different peptides that, combined, make up 23% of the formulation. Research on peptides for skincare is booming, and this product claims to contain the latest ones, combined in a patent-pending formulation.
The finishing touch
Known as the high-tech skincare brand, Freeze 24/7 has launched “Freeze & Go Instant Smoother & Brightener” for quick age-fighting touch-ups on the go. Sold only at QVC and Henri Bendel New York, this handy little device, which looks like a funky egg with a mirror, dispenses perfectly measured applications of a light-weight lotion which not only fights lines and wrinkles, but also instantly luminizes skin. A clever instant fix for $65 (0.37 fl oz, available at www.qvc.com).
Don’t neglect the skin on your body
The skin on your arms, chest and shoulders is just as prone to sun damage as the skin on your face. Applying your $100 per bottle serum all over your body is hardly a viable option. Therefore, save your ultimate treatments for your face plus perhaps your chest and neck. Rather, choose less expensive restorative serums available at the drugstore and apply them liberally all over your body. They may be less potent, but will make a difference for your skin.
The above mentioned products may contain the most potent ingredients to reverse sun damage, but they are a complete waste if you don’t continually protect your skin from the sun, and that means day after day, come rain or shine, even in the fall and winter. Pick a broad-spectrum sunscreen with Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Avobenzone or Mexoryl to ensure proper UVA protection. A drugstore brand is just as good as any. The single most important point is that you stick to the routine of applying it.
Here’s to another year of healthy, radiant skin!
Yoshiko hosts the skincare column here every month. Her skin care line www.juaraskincare.com