The time of year that we all have been patiently waiting for is finally here. Summertime is, after all, the highlight of coastal living. And basking in the sun after months of coldness has a way of lifting spirits like nothing else. Luckily, we are all now aware of the havoc that sun exposure can have on our skin and lathering on the baby oil and iodine before heading to the beach is a thing of the past. Instead, we coat our skin with our broad-spectrum SPF at least 30 minutes before going out, reapply every two hours and sit under the shade of umbrellas in hopes to preserve our youthfulness. While these are all necessary steps in the prevention of sun damage, we are still haunted with brown spots and wrinkles from our past sun-worshipping days. Well, here is a ray of light (UV free of course) on the situation: sun damage is not only preventable, but it is also reversible. Yes, there are treatments that will actually improve the brown spots, wrinkles and tough leathery textures that present themselves long after the instant gratification of a tan has come and gone.
One of the best treatments available for reducing the signs of sun damage is IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) Rejuvenation. Whereas ultraviolet light is responsible for the damage that occurs from sun exposure, IPL treatments use higher wavelengths of light to rejuvenate the skin. The light energy is absorbed into particular target cells with color (chromophores) in the skin. It is then converted to heat energy, which causes damage to the specific target area. IPL treatments are ideal for skin care concerns such as superficial and benign vascular and pigmented lesions like rosacea, spider veins and red and brown spots. When IPL is combined with radiofrequency, like with the Elos Plus Photofacial, you also get the stimulation of collagen production as well, which results in firmer, smoother skin. The best part is that there is no down time with IPL treatments and they can be performed in as little as 20 minutes.
Chemical peels are an effective method of superficially resurfacing the skin. By removing the damaged outer layers of the skin, you can achieve a brighter, smoother tone and texture. At FAC, Glytone’s Enerpeel® technology is our go to for all of our chemical peel needs. This is because with their patented carrier solution, the chemical activity is restrained until it is absorbed. The result is less surface trauma, faster surface recovery, less peeling and enhanced remodeling stimulation. The protocol of these treatments will depend upon which chemical and strength is used, the severity of the sun damage, and the goals and lifestyle of the patient. In most cases, optimal results are achieved with a series of 4-6 treatments.
Now, let’s talk products…With the sea of products on the market, it can be a bit overwhelming when trying to decide where to invest your money. The most important thing you need to remember is to not skip on the sunscreen! Since the sun is accountable for up to 90% of the signs of skin aging, daily use of a 30 SPF or higher that offers UVA and UVB protection is an absolute must. As far as other products go, here are a few key ingredients to look for when trying to reverse sun damage:
Antioxidants fight and protect against free radicals that are caused by the oxidation process that occurs from exposure to sunlight. Free Radicals are unstable molecules with only one electron that must take electrons from other molecules in order to re-stabilize. To do this, a free radical will attack a healthy cell and take an electron. This causes those cells to decay, leading to signs of aging, such as wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Some antioxidants to look for include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, Ameliox, Alpha-lipoic Acid and Green Tea.
Retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin-A. They work by promoting surface cells to rapidly die while stimulating new, healthier cell growth and reproduction. This reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and gives a smoother texture to the skin. They also suppress melanocytes that are responsible for discoloration. One of the biggest benefits of retinoids is that they can reduce the risk of skin cancer by neutralizing free radicals.
Alpha hyroxy acids (AHAs) are natural acids derived from fruit, milk or sugar. They are exfoliants that dissolve dead skin cells and allow fresh, healthy cells to emerge while also adding moisture to the skin. AHAs can be found in products such as moisturizers, masks, peels, cleansers and more. Citric acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid are all types of AHAs.
Thanks to science and technology, these are just a small sample of the many safe and effective treatments available to combat sun damage. It is best to consult with your doctor or esthetician about your specific concerns and needs in order to come up with a safe and effective treatment plan.