It’s almost the end of summer and chances are, if you’ve been spending lots of time under the sun, you’ve probably got some sun damage on your skin. In fact, sun damage is actually an accumulation of all your ultraviolet (UV) exposure over the years. Besides sunburns, UV rays from the sun can even cause up to 90% of skin aging, with some of the most common signs including wrinkles, dark spots, and saggy skin.¹ Feeling a bit concerned? Don’t worry: we’ve compiled some of the best ways for you to repair your sun-damaged skin.  

1. Exfoliate

A great way to help repair sun damage to your skin is to exfoliate. Exfoliation is the practice of removing dead skin cells from your skin to make room for the newer, healthier skin cells. It’s great for removing layers of dead, darkened cells that are holding clumps of accumulated brown pigment. Exfoliation can also stimulate the growth of new skin cells and make your skin look smoother, brighter, and evener. There are two types of exfoliants: physical exfoliants, which uses little granules to scrub away dead skin cells, and chemical exfoliants, which gently dissolve dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation is the gentler method and recommended if you have sensitive skin.

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2. Bleach The Brown Spots

The next method, known as skin bleaching or skin lightening, helps to get rid of the brown spots on your skin caused by sun damage. Though it’s called skin bleaching, there’s actually no bleach involved. Usually, in the form of a cream or serum, it works by lightening and evening out the brown accumulations of pigment (melanin) of your skin. The active ingredient in most products is hydroquinone.

3. Get Your Vitamin A

Another useful method of reversing sun damage is through retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A. Retinol works by stimulating cell turnover and increasing collagen production.² In other words, it helps your skin shed dead cells and produce new, healthier ones. Over time, it can improve the pigmentation of your skin and fade brown spots, and also help soften fine lines and wrinkles. There’s a lot of different retinol products on the product that range in formulation, like gels and creams, and strength. Some may require a prescription. It’s important to note that women who are pregnant should stay away from retinol since it could have potential side effects on the baby.

4. Consider Laser Therapy

If topical products aren’t for you, you may want to consider laser therapy options. Different professional laser treatments can improve different aspects of your skin, such as blotchiness, discoloration, or wrinkles. CO2 laser therapy is a laser technique that’s used for improving sun-damaged skin by getting rid of brown spots. It causes microchannels of injury to the skin, which triggers new skin growth. You should speak to a professional dermatologist if you are considering laser therapy.

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5. Prevention Is The Best Medicine

As people say, prevention is the best medicine. Since sun damage is an accumulation of your UV exposure over the years, it’s never too late to start adopting good sun safety habits. First off, make sure to wear sunscreen that’s broad spectrum and contains an SPF of at least 30. Other recommended forms of sun protection include sunglasses, UV protective clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat. To stay protected in the sun, you can also use the free sun safety app, Sun Index. Available for iOS and Android, the app gives tailored sun safety recommendations, such as how long you can stay in the sun before getting a sunburn and how much sunscreen to apply based on how much skin you have exposed.

  1. Canadian Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Photoaging. Retrieved June 28th, 2018
  2. Kafi, R., et al. (2007). Improvement of Naturally Aged Skin With Vitamin A (Retinol). Jama Network. 143(5): 606-612. Retrieved June 28th, 2018