Easy Treatments to Repair Summer Sun Damage
Skin problem: Dryness and wrinkles
"Salt water, air conditioning, and chlorine all strip skin of its protective lipids, allowing its natural moisture to evaporate faster," says Annet King of Dermalogica. Wrinkles and fine lines seem deeper on dehydrated skin, so you may notice that you look drier and older.
Quick Fix for Face: Mask It
"Unlike moisturizers, which sit on top of skin, masks are designed to quickly penetrate skin," says King. They contain fewer fillers and higher levels of active ingredients, so you get a good dose of hydration, fast. Look for one with hyaluronic acid, which attracts moisture. Try: L'Occitane Angelica Instant Hydration Mask ($35, usa.loccitane.com). Use twice weekly for one to two weeks, then any time your skin feels parched.
Quick Fix for Body: Seal It In
"A lotion with dimethicone keeps moisture in," says Deirdre Hooper, M.D., a dermatologist in New Orleans. "It's not oil-based, so it won't feel greasy, making it nice for those still-hot days in early fall." Use post-shower, while skin is damp, to lock in hydration. We like: Jergens Soothing Aloe Moisturizer ($5, drugstores).
Long-Term Solution: Amp Up Moisture
Use a cleanser with ceramides, which help restore stripped skin and stop moisture loss as temperatures drop, says Dr. Hooper. Try: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser ($12, drugstores). And switch to a heavier night cream to keep skin hydrated. Look for one rich in vitamins and plant-based oils for an additional antioxidant and anti-aging boost. We like: Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing Night Cream ($14, drugstores), with vitamins B and E and olive oil.
Skin problem: Spots
It's not just a lobster-red burn that indicates sun damage. Even the slightest tan is a sign of overexposure. "Within seconds of the sun's UV rays' hitting your skin, pigment-producing cells go into overdrive," says King. That's why your once porcelain complexion may look freckled and uneven come September.
Quick Fix: Exfoliate Daily
You can't instantly eradicate hyperpigmentation, but sloughing is a start. It removes the top layer of discolored skin, lightening spots and allowing active ingredients to penetrate more easily. Kick-start your routine by exfoliating every day for a week; then cut back to one or two weekly sessions: "Sun exposure thickens the top layer of skin, so it can handle it. Just choose an exfoliator labeled for daily use," King says. One option: Pond's Luminous Clean Daily Exfoliating Cleanser ($6, drugstores). Or, try a weekly at-home peel. "Pick one with alpha-hydroxy acids, which break down areas of surface pigment and help remove the layer of discolored skin, " says Dr. Hooper. Try: Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Peel & Reveal Dermal Resurfacer ($58, Sephora). Continue to use daily sun protection, since any sun exposure will thwart your spot-clearing attempts.
Long-Term Solution: Lighten Up
"Sun-induced discoloration is easier to reverse than the kind caused by hormonal changes," says King. "But it develops in the deepest part of the skin, so it takes at least 10 weeks to see results." Use a brightening serum, which is concentrated to deliver a high level of active ingredients; King suggests one with lighteners like niacinamide and vitamin C. Apply in the morning (under sunscreen) and evening. One option: L'Oréal Paris Youth Code Dark Spot Serum Corrector ($25, drugstores), which contains both brighteners. Continue treatment year-round to keep new spots from forming.
Hair problem: Washed out color
Whether your strands are blond or brunette, colored or natural, it's likely that you'll notice fading by Labor Day. The reason: "Summer is when hair is subjected to the three biggest causes of damage: sun, chlorine, and salt water," says Kyle White, lead colorist at the Oscar Blandi Salon in New York City.
Quick Fix: Enhance Color
For a quick hue refresh, head to the kitchen. Blonds tend to lose golden colors, resulting in ashiness, says White. Counter this with chamomile tea: Rinse damp hair with cooled tea (the longer it steeps and the richer its color, the better), and let it sit for five to 30 minutes before shampooing. "This deposits the yellow and gold tones that are the first to fade in blonds," says White. Brunettes can try a similar trick using coffee; the java replenishes cooler shades that are lost when brown hair turns brassy. Color-enhancing shampoo and conditioner, which help brighten strands without depositing dye, are another easy daily fix. Try Redken Blonde Glam Shampoo and Conditioner ($14.50 and $15.50, salons) or Pantene Pro-V Brunette Expression Shampoo and Conditioner ($5 each, drugstores).
Long-Term Solution: Maximize Shine
When it's time to recolor, apply dye only where you see visible changes. "Fading typically occurs only on the top layer, where hair is exposed to sun, and at the ends, which are the most porous. Since color is damaging, apply it only where it's needed to minimize wear and tear," says White. Then try a clear gloss to boost all-over shine and vibrancy. This smooths the hair cuticle, making strands look lustrous. (See "At-Home Glosses & Glazes" for the winners of our GHRI test.)
Hair problem: Dry, brittle strands
Summer elements zap moisture from hair, leaving you with Barbie-like locks. "Chlorine and salt water lift the cuticle, seep in, and dry tresses," explains hairstylist Don Bewley. The sun also weakens hair -- particularly gray hair, which doesn't have the protective benefit of melanin, or color.
Quick Fix: Treat and Hydrate
Apply a deep conditioner to damp hair, then wrap with plastic wrap so your body heat will help the ingredients penetrate, says Bewley. Try: Paul Mitchell After-Sun Replenishing Masque ($19, salons). Or, try a hair oil. Look for one with coconut oil, which won't leave a greasy residue; we like Pureology Precious Oil ($40, salons). Apply from mid-shaft to ends before blow-drying, or massage a few drops into dry hair before shampooing.
Long-Term Solution: Swap Conditioner
"People use one with proteins like keratin, thinking it will stengthen hair," says Rebecca Friedman, co-owner of Goodform Salon in Los Angeles. "But over time the proteins build up and harden, making strands feel brittle," she explains. Save protein-based products for occasional use and opt for a moisturizing conditioner with hydrating oils for every day. Try: Bangstyle Hydrating Conditioner ($16, bangstyle.com for salons), with avocado oil.
GHRI test: At-home glosses and glazes
They promise shinier smoother hair... without a hefty salon price tag. Some claim shine for a few days (till they're shampooed out); others guarantee luster for weeks.
Women with varying hair types tried each product at home and reported on their results. In the lab, colored hair swatches with the glosses applied were evaluated for immediate shine and smoothness; glosses with long-term claims were also evaluated after four and six weeks.
Next: The Results
GHRI test: At-home glosses and glazes
Among the temporary fixers John Frieda Clear Shine Luminous Glaze ($10, drugstores, previous slide) scored tops for being the easiest to use and instantly adding shine. "I got compliments about my hair. It seemed to smooth the texture and make it shinier," said one volunteer. For long-term effects, Clairol Natural Instincts Shine Happy Clear Shine Treatment ($9, drugstores) aced consumer and lab tests for immediate shine, and testers also liked how it smoothed strands. While it fell short of the four-week claim, it still left locks shiny for two weeks in lab tests. A few testers found that the glaze slightly lightened their hair color.
The Bottom Line
These picks are a fast and easy way to restore lost luster and smoothness.