There’s nothing quite like an Australian summer. It’s a time for backyard BBQs, picnics in the park and long days at the beach. But unfortunately, all that time in the sun—not to mention the salt water, heavy sunscreens and a few too many poolside cocktails—can wreak serious havoc on your skin. Currently, we’re only halfway through the season, but you may have already noticed telltale signs of skin damage like dryness and pigmentation.
The most common symptoms of post-summer skin are roughness, brown spots, irritated red skin and blotchiness. Summer is a time when people get constant sun exposure and are not reapplying sunscreen the recommended three to four hours. Moreover, you swear more in summer and when that mixes with sunscreen or makeup it can clog the pores and lead to breakouts or irritated skin
-Dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Dr. Ronald Moy
So, how do you fix all this now before it gets any worse? Of course, hydration is key at this stage—whether you use a natural face oil like jojoba or rosehip, or a potent moisturiser. 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!
Nope, makeup wipes don’t actually deeply clean 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 year, 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 it 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.
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 discolouration. Unfortunately, you should expect to fork out up from $1000 if you’re interested in trying a treatment.
Your skin already has naturally-occurring enzymes that cleverly fix damaged DNA. However, with age, these enzyme levels take a nosedive. 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.”
Raw honey has been used as a natural way to help heal burns for generations. Specifically, a solution called propolis 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.”
Finally, while the damage may mostly already be inflicted, don’t forget to continue to protect 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. Sun damage is one of the main causes of aging. We cannot overstress the importance of 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 favours Sun Bum SPF 30 Baby Bum Sunscreen ($17.99). It’s formulated especially for babies 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.
Now you’re prepped for the summer, but what about the rest of your life? Find out when you should start using anti-ageing products here.