7 Ways To Minimise Sun Damage
From serums to lasers, the best ways to do damage control after searing in the sun.
Any dermatologist will say that it’s better to prevent sun damage in the first place than to try and fix the aftermath. But alas, things happen: Sometimes we forget to apply sun protection or neglect to re-apply. We all know about the necessity of wearing sunscreen—but what about mitigating the sun’s toll after the damage has been done?
According to dermatologist Dr. Papri Sarkar, sun damage is actually threefold, as “the different types of UV radiation hit different depths of the skin.” On the most superficial levels, UV rays can cause dark spots as our natural pigment cells take up more space to protect our skin and dilated blood vessels spur the creation of red and brown marks. Diving deeper, UV rays also damage the skin’s cellular foundation of elastin and collagen, which yields a battery of aging effects: wrinkles and folds, sagging, loss of plumpness. On the deepest levels, UV rays damage our DNA, and those mutations can cause skin cancer.
“The unfortunate thing is that sun feels amazing,” says Dr Sarkar, noting that a summer of unprotected beach days poses health risks long after the season ends. “That’s why you need to think of sunscreen as a shield. The point is to block the sun from absorbing into the skin or absorbing as deeply into the skin.” She recommends Supergoop’s Play SPF 50 mist, which not only blocks UV rays, but also contains helpful antioxidants to protect your skin from grime and environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke.
If you’ve slacked on the SPF, now’s a good time to start exploring which products can do damage control. From topical serums to incorporate into your daily skincare routine to big guns that’ll keep redness, burst blood vessels and dark spots at bay, here are seven of the best remedies.
Sciton BBL Hero
Intense Pulsated Light (“IPL”) therapy uses specific wavelengths of light to precisely treat several skin woes. While certain wavelengths work well against acne, stretch marks or birthmarks, others can be targeted to reverse the effects of sun damage. “We use the Sciton BBL Hero, which is the strongest ‘broad band light’ IPL machine on the market,” says Haley Stevens, licensed medical aesthetician at Coastal Plastic Surgery, a top New England medical spa and plastic surgery office. “BBL helps with hyperpigmentation and overall redness, as well as telangiectasis, better known as those pesky broken capillaries caused by too much UV exposure.” Stevens recommends two or three treatments to start, and then an annual booster at the end of every summer. Best of all? There’s no downtime, so you can squeeze in a treatment on your lunch hour.
CO2 Laser Resurfacing
For a med-spa treatment that packs more of a punch, consider carbon dioxide laser resurfacing. During the treatment, a CO2 laser essentially removes or “ablates” the epidermis and heats the underlying dermis. The healing process of that trauma causes new collagen fibres to form, resulting in tighter, brighter, fresher skin—meaning that superficial sun damage is virtually erased. “CO2 resurfacing also does amazing things for fine lines, wrinkles, textural irregularities,” says Dr. Sarkar. “You get better results with CO2 than with IPL, but you also have more downtime.”
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Baby Facial
Consider this as close to a professional-grade peel as you’ll be able to buy over-the-counter. With a considerable 25 per cent alpha hydroxy acid and 2 per cent beta hydroxy acid and a blend of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric and salicylic acids, this formulation sloughs off dull skin cells, leaving behind radiant, glowy skin. It’s the perfect at-home once-weekly facial to manage hyperpigmentation and dullness.
Approx. $108; drunkelephant.com
ZO Skin Health Daily Power Defense
Photo: ZO Skin Health
Eradicating dark spots and hyperpigmentation can be aggressive on the skin, but this daily serum focuses on the other aspects of sun damage—namely, repairing your face’s elastin and collagen reservoirs. Lightweight and incredibly antioxidant-rich (to prevent further damage from environmental pollutants and free radicals), this serum mitigates past skincare negligence while improving overall skin health for the future.
Approx. $203; zoskinhealth.com
Caldera Lab The Good Multifunctional Serum
Photo: Caldera Lab
Often in the skincare realm, it feels like clean ingredients and efficacy are mutually exclusive—not the case with this highly potent serum crafted in Jackson, Wyoming. Many of the botanicals used in this clean formulation are harvested right in Wyoming, and what can’t be found locally is sourced organically and sustainably. Hero ingredient fireweed helps calm the inflammation of sun damage and notably, soothing sea buckthorn repairs oxidative stress, hydrates and has anti-aging properties.
approx. $104; calderalab.com
Dr Barbara Sturm Brightening Face Cream
Photo: Dr Barbara Sturm
If your skin tends to dry out after a summer of sun, go for a face cream that both moisturizes and fights hyperpigmentation. This long-lasting salve comes loaded with hyaluronic acid to support plumpness and moisture retention, light-reflecting mineral pigments to provide an instant glowing effect and cress sprouts extract to diminish not only UV exposure spots but also age-related yellowish spots.
Sisley Paris Photo Blanc Le Concentré Pure Bright Activating Serum
Photo: Sisley Paris
Leave it to posh (and pricey) French skincare brand Sisley Paris to source exotic, effective ingredients. Its precious Egyptian Myrobolan extract has a powerful brightening effect and a patent-pending cocktail (pea peptide extract, hexylresorcinol, wild thyme extract and vitamin B3) specifically hones in on those dark spots caused by UV damage. This lightweight serum goes on seamlessly and promises results in just 15 days.