How To Repair Sun Damage, According To Dermatologists | Good + Good

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No matter how diligent you were wearing SPF, the past few months soaking up the sun may have left your skin a little less wearable. “Sun exposure during the summer months can lead to increased redness, sun spots, fine lines, and other signs of sun damage,” says Brian Hibler, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York. it is only the effects that are immediately visible. “Some of the damage caused by the sun is at the cellular level and is not easily apparent, but it accumulates over the years and can show itself as loss of elasticity, loss of volume, deep wrinkles, broken blood vessels and mottled hyperpigmentation.”

Obviously, regular application of sunscreen is important to avoid all of these problems, especially because “90% of the visible signs of aging come from unprotected exposure to UV rays,” says Mona A. Gohara, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist and Associate Clinical Professor. of Dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine. But, other than stepping back in time and remembering to wear a hat at the beach, what can you do about the damage already done?

According to dermatologists, fighting the visible effects of UV exposure is as simple as “A, B, C.” Keep scrolling through the alphabet of active ingredients you should add to your routine so memories of this summer’s pleasures aren’t written on your face in the fall.

1. Vitamin A (aka retinoids)

Retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A, are known to be one of the best of the best ingredients for fighting the effects of sun damage. “They are converted into retinoic acid in the body and have a number of benefits for the skin including improved collagen synthesis, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to repair sun damage and increased cell turnover giving improved texture and tone to the skin.” says Dr. Hibler. Plus, they can “reduce the tendency for cells and keratin debris to clump together and clog pores,” which may make them useful for clearing up late summer breakouts.

Basically, retinoids can do it all and leave your skin with a smooth finish in the process. “These are the quintessential collagen builders because they increase collagen production and decrease collagen breakdown,” adds Dr. Gohara, naming retinol as the one ingredient she would want if she was stranded on a desert island. “Retinoids even out skin tone, help prevent acne and fade acne marks. They’re best for reducing and preventing fine lines.”

One thing to note: if your skin is sensitive, board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD, recommends bakuchiol instead of a retinoid. Research has shown that this gentler, natural alternative can reduce sun damage just as well as retinol and can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as skin elasticity and pigmentation, which means it helps you will give the same results as vitamin A without the irritation. “Bakuchiol appears to activate genes that regulate collagen and elastin production, the same ones activated by retinol,” says Dr. King. “And it doesn’t seem to irritate and redden the skin like retinol often does, so it seems like a milder option.”

2. Vitamin B3 (aka niacinamide)

Next, in alphabetical order: vitamin B3, otherwise known as niacinamide. “Niacinamide is an antioxidant with lightening effects that can help fade dark spots from the sun,” says Dr. Hibler, adding that it can also reduce redness and rosacea.

And that’s not all this versatile ingredient can do. “It has been shown in several studies to reduce the signs of skin aging, particularly skin tone and texture,” says Dr. King, who likes the ingredient for treating hyperpigmentation. “It also increases the skin’s production of ceramides, which help strengthen the skin barrier, preventing moisture loss.”

3. Vitamin C

“Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals,” says Dr. Gohara. “Free radicals are pesky chemical particles that come from UV light and pollution. They cause cosmetic havoc on the skin and can contribute to the formation of skin cancers. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants; it helps build collagen, even skin tone, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, etc.

Not only does Vitamin C minimize the visible effects of past UV exposure, it can also prevent future damage from occurring. “Studies have shown that vitamin C is effective in protecting against UV light-induced damage, and also has utility in the treatment of photodamage,” says Dr. King. “Photodamage can create dark discolorations and brown spots. and lighten dark spots that are the result of UV damage.

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