3 Ways To Save Your Skin After Too Much Sun Exposure

Did you get too much sun exposure this summer? Here’s how to fix the most common issues of sun damage.

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Too Much Fun In The Sun?

So long, sweet summer. Hello, wrinkles? Uh-oh. If you weren't diligent about wearing sunscreen this summer, you might be seeing a few signs of damage. Here are the most common issues that arise and how to remedy the situation, pronto.

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The Issue: Texture 

The sun robs us of the oils our skin naturally produces (called lipids) and deteriorates its natural hyaluronic acid production, says Charmaine Cooper, national education manager for Dermalogica. This increases dryness, which can leave skin with a rough texture. "For those of us in our late 40s and 50s, lipid levels are also affected by fluctuations in estrogen," she says.

The Fix: Use a chemical exfoliator like alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) to exfoliate the uppermost layers and reveal smoother, younger-looking skin. Retinols or Retin-A can also correct rough spots by helping to slough away dead skin cells and acting as an antioxidant to help skin bounce back, stimulating collagen production. (Just don't forget to layer sunscreen on top!)

Products That Help: 

  • Avon Anew Clinical Extra Strength Retexturizing Peel for $32: Find a representative at avon.ca 
  • Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5, $76, Medi spas and dermatologist offices nationally, skinceutials.ca 
  • Olay Total Effects Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 30 for $27
  • Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer for $110 at  sephora.ca 
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The Issue: Pigmentation

 Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Any tan is a bad tan. Sun-kissed skin sounds healthy, but it's not. The colour change comes from our melanin reacting to UV rays while trying to protect our skin cells from damage. No one is immune to this process. According to research from the Olay Multi-Decade and Ethnicity study, while darker-skinned people have more natural protection from the sun, they will still acquire sun damage without sunscreen protection.

The Fix: Dr. Barankin recommends skincare ingredients like retinol, hydroquinone, azelaic acid, vitamin C and AHAs to fix pigmentation issues. Vitamin C works to interrupt melanogenesis (the process of cells producing melanin), inhibiting a key enzyme in the process, while the potent ingredient hydroquinone works in much the same way but can prevent melanin production altogether in certain concentrations. Rice bran and mulberry extract are potent natural pigment erasers.

Products That Help: 

  • Obagi Nu-Derm Skin Transformation Kit, $467 (available from your dermatologist by prescription). 
  • The Body Shop Drops of Light Pure Healthy Brightening Serum, $38 at thebodyshop.ca 
  • NeoStrata Vitamin C Concentrate, $40 at neostrata.ca 
  • Glisodin Skin Nutrients Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, $80 at glisodinskin.com 

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The Issue: Lines and Creases

"Wrinkles don't form on the surface of the skin," says Cooper. "The skin collapses from underneath." These furrows and lines are caused when the dermal layer is under stress from sun exposure and lack of natural oils, which can lead to collagen degradation. "Expression lines are great - they are a sign of health and beauty," she says, "but without protection, the nice smile lines around the eyes, for example, can become more pronounced and turn into crow's feet."

The Fix: To diminish wrinkles, Dr. Benjamin Barankin, a dermatologist based in Toronto and medical director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre, says that ingredients like vitamin C (aim for 10 percent L-ascorbic acid) and peptides are key for repair. Other ingredients that can impede damage include AHAs, stem cell factors and retinol. "At the same time, don't overwash or dehydrate your face, and use a good-quality moisturizer that suits your skin type," he says.

Products That Help: 

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