Fall Renewal: The Best Treatments For Repairing Sun Damaged Skin
by Christie Fox Lavigne, Director of Skincare, Oasis Day Spas in New York City and Westchester County
By October, our beloved trips to the beach are over, the last of our summer tans have faded, and the air has finally turned crisp and cooler. The summertime humidity, which helped our keep our skin supple and hydrated during those months, is long gone as well. What now remains for many is lingering dry skin and damaging sun spots. The time to repair our summer-loving skin has officially begun.
Autumn is the time to address and correct all of the wrongs and abuse our skin endures during the summertime months. Only the fun police would want to deny us the the joy of spending long days in the sun, but those same sun rays that makes us feel so alive, are the very thing that causes our skin to age. But have no fear – no matter your age, ethnicity, skin type or skin condition – there are a multitude of options to help heal and repair the damage caused by the sun.
Chemical Peels – One of the most common ways to remove dead skin and brighten almost every skin type skin is through a series of light-to-medium depth chemical peels. No matter if you suffer from acne/acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, mature, dehydrated, or dull skin, there is a peel for you. Common peels include Glycolic, Lactic, Salicylic, TCA and Jessner Peels, and each one is formulated to best address a specific skin care condition. It is recommended that a client see their skin care professional every one-to-two weeks for a series of approximately 5-8 sessions to achieve the best results. This treatment can be performed on most any skin type, condition, and ethnicity – even darker and sensitive skin clients are eligible. Downtime is next to nothing with this level of peel, although clients will feel a slight tingle/itching on their skin during treatment.
Microdermabrasion – Whereas Chemical Peels achieve skin resurfacing through a series of chemical reactions on the skin, microdermabrasion is able to do the same through physical action on the skin. It is performed one of two ways – either with a diamond-head tip and vacuum suction or with powerful crystals hitting the skin and being immediately removed, again through suction. This service is a highly effective tool for removing dead skin and blackheads and creating a smoother texture and skin surface, even after one treatment. Just like chemical peels, microdermabrasion remains most effective when performed in a series of 4-6 sessions. This treatment is beneficial on all skin types, minus sensitive skin clients. Downtime can vary, and some irritation can occur, but within 24 hours, any reaction should subside and your skin will be left feeling clean and reinvigorated.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) Therapy – IPL has come into mainstream popularity in the past five years and is a powerful tool in the treatment of damaged and aging skin. Although many people may confuse IPL with laser, they remain two separate, although similar, methods for skin rejuvenation as well as hair removal. IPL uses varying levels of wavelengths of high energy light, penetrating deep into the skin to target pigment, broken capillaries, and stimulate collagen growth. IPL is a more immediate and effective method to treat sun damage, although it is also more costly. It is also important to note, that it will often make the pigment on the skin initially appear darker, however dark areas will fade over the following days and throughout treatment. With broken capillaries, treated areas may become more pronounced before the darkened areas are absorbed by the body. Depending on the size and depth of your sun damage, 2-3 sessions are recommended. Some clients find the treatment uncomfortable (likening it to snapping rubber bands on the skin), while others say it is fine. Downtime varies, but is usually less than 2-3 days.
Laser Resurfacing – the most drastic and intense level of skin resurfacing involves a greater commitment in terms of cost, downtime, and potential side effects, however, it usually only requires one treatment. The two best known laser resurfacing methods for removing damaged skin are FRAXEL and CO2 laser. Both Fraxel and CO2 are considered the most advanced treatment available, and are performed in a doctor’s office. Both can be extremely effective at treating sun damage, aging skin, and wrinkles, although people with darker skin, acne, or skin that scars may not be eligible for treatment. The cost for this treatment is greater than other skin rejuvenation methods, although again, only one treatment is usually required. Perhaps the biggest concern with this treatment is the downtime and side effects– often 2-4 weeks is suggested for healing and those that scar easily, may not achieve the desired effects as well as others. It is best to check with a medical professional to see if this treatment is for you.
There are additional support tools available to clients of all skin types to augment services performed in the treatment room. In conjunction with these treatments discussed today, include medications such as retinols (Vitamin A), other anti-oxidant products, such as Vitamin C and Stem Cell products.
Remember to check with your favorite skin care professional for specific ways to treat your own skin.
One thing is for sure, that the eternal quest for younger, healthier skin has many different paths…and there is one for just about every person, at every price point. When we care for our skin it shows, and the better educated you are, the more likely you are to be able to flaunt your healthy glow for years to come!