SOS! How to Save Your Summer-Stressed Skin Now

Overdid the sunshine and partying? These experts can help.

Image via Instagram user bellahadid

Summer can wreak havoc on your skin, particularly if you spent the past three months enjoying the sun, salt water, and a few too many poolside cocktails. In fact, you can likely blame the season for just about any dryness or pigmentation you’re experiencing right now, dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Dr. Ronald Moy, told us.

“The most common symptoms of post-summer skin are roughness, brown spots, irritated red skin and blotchiness,” he said, also explaining that the combination of constant sunshine and sunscreen-clogged pores contribute to the damage: “Summer is a time when people get constant sun exposure and are not reapplying sunscreen the recommended three to four hours. Moreover, you were probably sweating more in summer, and when that mixes with sunscreen or makeup it can clog the pores and lead to breakouts or irritated skin.”

So, how do you fix all this now that it’s officially fall? Of course, hydration is key at this stage – whether you use a natural face oil like jojoba or rosehip, or a potent moisturizer. However, to really reverse and repair summer skin damage, there are a few treatments, techniques, and products Dr. Moy and other skin experts suggest. Keep scrolling!

1. Try a chemical exfoliant.

Good Genes by Sunday Riley

Nope, makeup wipes don’t actually deeply your skin. Instead, regular exfoliation is the best way to remove dead skin cells and clear your pores of the makeup and sweat that’s been building up all summer. For a glowing complexion and clear pores all fall, Dr. Moy suggests adding a gentle cleansing formulation of glycolic acid to your skin care routine. It’s a type of α-hydroxy acid – better known as AHAs – and over time can help prevent acne and blackhead breakouts, fine lines, and dull skin. This particular AHA has the smallest molecules in the group, meaning it’s able to really penetrate deeply into your skin and deliver effective results. You could also try a lactic acid serum at night, like this one by Sunday Riley, which has a similar effect.

2. Consider a laser treatment.

Have you noticed light brown spots appearing over your face lately? The quickest way to banish pigmentation is also, predictably, the most expensive and painful: Laser. “For the accumulated sun damage, procedures like a Fraxel laser can help remove some sun damage accumulation,” Dr. Moy suggests. Side-effects can include pain and swelling for several days, and your skin may take up to three weeks to fully recover.

During the treatment, which only takes about 10 to 15 minutes, microscopic laser beams create tiny, controlled wounds in the skin. Your body sees this as dead skin and starts replacing the area with new skin, which is how Fraxel helps to fade pigmentation, scarring, and discoloration. Unfortunately, you should expect to fork out between $800 and $1,200 if you’re interested in trying a treatment.

3. Introduce a DNA repair serum to your routine.

This DNA Night Renewal Cream ($130) promises to help your complexion recover. Image via DNA EGF Renewal

Your skin already has naturally-occurring enzymes that cleverly fix damaged DNA. However, with age, these enzyme levels take a nosedive, and the repairs can become less effective – just when you need them most. Creams, masks, and serums have become more popular in the last two years as more research supports the idea that they can help fight UV damage, aging and pollutants. If you’re interested in putting the concept to the test, Dr. Moy suggests the DNA EGF Renewal line to “boost your body’s natural DNA repair process.”

4. Use products that contain honey.

Raw honey has been used as a natural way to help heal burns for generations. Specifically, a solution called propolis, which is a substance made from tree resins that have been processed by bees and secreted, is widely applied in natural medicine as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agent. That’s why you can find it in skin care products designed to help relieve the symptoms of over-exposure to sun, like Boomsilk moisturizer (from $27), which contains honey, bees wax and propolis. The beauty brand’s founder, Cindy Joseph, also believes these ingredients are perfect for “skin rejuvenation, rehydrating, preparing and healing.”

5. Be diligent with your SPF.

Finally, while the damage may mostly already be inflicted, don’t forget to continue protecting yourself from further damage.

Certified nurse and co-founder of Labb Aesthetic Beauty Bar, Danielle Smith MSN, NP-C, regularly treats women with prematurely aged skin who haven’t been diligent with their SPF routine. “The number one symptom, and I think we have all had a similar moment, is when you wake up one morning and notice fine lines and wrinkles that just weren’t there before. The rapid onset of a wrinkle is annoying, but preventable,” she said, adding, “Sun damage is one of the main causes of aging. We cannot stress the importance sunscreen, and the trick is consistency.”

She’s adamant that you should apply every day, and reapply regularly, even if you’re just spending a minimal amount of time outside. “If you are not protected, you are damaging your skin. If you know that you will be spending time outside for a longer duration than just 15-minute intervals, then go with a higher SPF and reapply according to the directions on the package.”

Smith favors Sun Bum SPF 30 Baby Bum Sunscreen ($17.99). It is formulated especially for a baby and is made without harsh chemicals or fragrances, good for even the most sensitive skin types. Wear it every single day – and yes, that means winter too.