Rehydrate your sun-damaged skin after a beach honeymoon with these dermat-approved tips

Have fun in the sun and throw caution to the wind.

You’re just back from your dreamy summer honeymoon with a lot of good memories and precious moments. But, that's not the only thing you got back with you. The harsh effects of prolonged sun exposure came along and your skin now feels and looks parched or damaged, and in dire need of some TLC. 

But before applying layer on layer of moisturiser to treat the heat burns, it's important to understand that different types of skin react differently in the summer—oily skin can get oilier, dry skin can get drier, and sensitive skin can be subject to irritation. Understanding how the sun affects your skin and knowing the best ways to rehydrate and repair it is crucial.

How does the sun damage our skin?

Some basics about sun exposure an dits effects, before we delve into the remedies. The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can penetrate the skin and cause damage. UV radiation, which is classified into UVA and UVB rays, penetrate deeply into the skin, causing premature aging and wrinkling (photoaging). UVB rays primarily affect the surface of the skin, leading to sunburn. Both types of UV rays can damage the DNA in skin cells, potentially leading to skin cancer. 

Sun damage manifests as dryness, redness, peeling, and even painful burns. Over time, it can lead to long-term effects such as hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and loss of skin elasticity. A study published in the journal Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine highlights that repeated UV exposure accelerates the breakdown of collagen and elastin, vital components that keep our skin firm and youthful.

How to rehydrate sun-damaged skin

Hydration from within: Start by cooling down the skin by taking a shower to soothe it. Apply cold compresses to areas with sunburn to reduce skin inflammation. Follow that up by drinking plenty of water. Hydration begins internally, and adequate water intake helps to restore moisture balance in your skin. Aim for at least eight to 10 glasses of water a day. Avoid alcohol and caffeine during the healing time as they can further dehydrate the skin.

Topical moisturisers: Use a rich, hydrating moisturiser to replenish lost moisture. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water and glycerin, which attracts moisture to the skin. Aloe vera gel is another excellent option for soothing and hydrating the skin.

Gentle cleansing: Opt for a gentle, hydrating cleanser that doesn't strip your skin of its natural oils. Avoid harsh soaps and exfoliants that can further irritate sun-damaged skin.

Soothing serums: Antioxidants help to repair skin cells and reduce redness. Incorporate serums with antioxidants like vitamin C and E, which protect the skin from further damage. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) can also aid in reducing inflammation and improving skin elasticity. 

How to repair sun-damaged skin?

Avoid further sun exposure: One of the important steps in repairing sun-damaged skin is to avoid additional UV exposure. Stay out of the sun as much as possible until your skin has healed. Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day, even if you’re spending most of your time indoors. Reapply every two hours, especially if you’re swimming or sweating. If you must go outside, wear protective clothing (use wide-brimmed hats, UV-protective sunglasses, and clothing with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor).

Overnight repair creams: Use night creams that contain retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A. Retinoids accelerate cell turnover and promote collagen production, helping to repair and renew the skin. However, they can cause irritation for certain skin types, so start with a lower concentration and gradually increase usage. You can also use a night cream containing peptides, niacinamide, and low-strength retinol to support skin repair overnight. Niacinamide helps to reduce inflammation and improve the skin barrier.

Hydrating masks: Apply hydrating masks once or twice a week. Look for masks containing ingredients that can provide deep hydration and soothe the skin.

Natural remedies: Natural remedies can also be effective in soothing and repairing sun-damaged skin. Aloe vera gel, when applied directly from the plant, offers anti-inflammatory properties and can speed up healing. Coconut oil is another natural moisturiser that can help repair the skin barrier and reduce redness. 

Advanced treatments: Mild chemical peels that can help to improve skin texture and tone by removing damaged outer layers. One could also opt for laser therapy. Non-ablative lasers like Erbium Glass laser can stimulate collagen production and repair sun-damaged skin with minimal downtime. Lastly, micro-needling with or without platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can enhance skin repair and regeneration.

Taking care of sun-damaged skin requires a combination of hydration, protection, and repair. By following these steps you can effectively rehydrate and repair your skin, ensuring it remains healthy and radiant after your sun-soaked honeymoon. Remember, prevention is key, so make sunscreen your best friend to protect your skin from future damage. Hydrate while you are out and about in the sun and start taking care of your skin from the first day of your holiday, if possible.

Inputs by Dr Niketa Sonavane, Celebrity Dermatologist and founder of Ambrosia Aesthetics, Mumbai and Dr. Kiran, MD, Author of Skin Sense and Founder of Isya Aesthetics 

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