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Skin

How To Erase Sun Damage (And Keep It From Coming Back)

by Hannah Johnson

@alexandra_sage

• By Hannah Johnson

No matter how obsessive you are with your skin care routine, you’ve likely forgotten to apply your morning SPF more than once. Perhaps as a teen you even enjoyed the glow imparted from a tanning bed. Hey, we’ve all been there. But it’s 2021, and we all know just how bad the sun’s UV rays are for our skin, especially when they make their presence known in the form of hyperpigmentation and fine lines. If you’re tired of these sun souvenirs, there are several options to reverse the damage and prevent future appearances. Nancy Samolitis, MD, FAAD of Facile Dermatology + Boutique shares some of the best tips for dealing with sun damage.

Identify The Issue

It can be easy to confuse daily sun damage and melasma, a separate pigmentation issue caused by hormonal changes that affects many women throughout their lives. It’s best to consult with a dermatologist who can confirm whether or not your brown spots are related to melasma or sun exposure. Knowing what you’re dealing with is the best way to approach treatment options.

Treat Problem Areas

Tackling hyperpigmentation takes time and patience. But a great first step is to add an over-the-counter chemical exfoliator to your skincare routine. Using a product with alpha-hydroxy acids will help brighten skin, even tone, and reduce fine lines skin over time, as they work to gently resurface the top layer of skin. Dr. Samolitis recommends looking for products that contain tranexamic acid, azelaic acid or kojic acid, which are all known to safely target dark spots. 

For more intensive treatment, Dr. Samolitis recommends booking an in-office chemical peel, which can provide a near-instant glow and usher forth clear, baby smooth skin. If you want to treat sun damage alongside other texture issues, acne scars, or enlarged pores (all of which can be caused by excessive UV exposure), a resurfacing laser procedure can stimulate the growth of new collagen, leading to a smoother, brighter skin. Dr. Samolitis recommends Fraxel, Coolpeel or Clear + Brilliant for treating sun-damaged complexions, but be sure to consult with a practitioner to discuss which laser will work best for you.

Prevention Is Key

Dr. Samolitis says she loves to layer antioxidant boosters with SPF for daytime prevention. “I recommend antioxidants like Vitamin C and Resveratrol,” she says, as these ingredients fight free radicals and damage caused by pollution. When paired with a mineral sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, these offer the most dynamic skin protection combo out there.

Speaking of SPF: don’t forget to reapply it throughout the day! This is especially important if you plan on being in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the worst time of day for sunburns. Find a formula with a texture you actually enjoy wearing to make reapplication feel like self-care instead of a chore.

Finally, we give you permission to splurge on some fabulous accessories. A great beach hat and some huge, glamorous sunglasses will provide an extra bit of protection, so you can enjoy your time in the sun without worry.