The Best Treatments to Reverse Sun-Damaged Skin
Some things in life are unavoidable - like taxes and ever-expanding lines of celebrity skincare. But did you know that people who use broad-spectrum sunscreen daily experience 24% less skin aging than those who use sunscreen only intermittently?
For most of my youth I was lax about my sunscreen habits. I tan easily and rarely burn. Lathering my body in oil and laying in the sun all day made me look like a bronzed goddess. I used to be a regular at tanning salons in the winter. The mere thought of wearing SPF every day sounded insane to me.
Up until a few years ago, I didn’t think I had any sun damage. That changed when my dermatologist removed half a dozen precancerous moles off my back.
I was 26. I had (relatively) flawless skin, I never suffered from sunburns.
How could I possibly have sun damage?
Spoiler Alert: Sun damage often occurs without sunburn!
When UV rays from the sun (or a tanning bed) hit the skin unprotected by sunscreen, skin cells are damaged at the deepest layers. It can take years before that damage surfaces and becomes visible to us.
The unfortunate reality is that those long days in the sun will come back to haunt you in the form of sunspots, loss of elasticity, wrinkles and in some cases, cancer. While SPF is critical in helping to prevent future damage, it is not a foolproof solution altogether.
If you already have sun damage, don’t panic! Luckily, there are treatments that will correct and repair your sun-damaged skin.
But first, let’s run through what sun damage is and what it looks like on your skin.
What Is Sun Damage?
Sun damage, also referred to as photoaging, occurs when ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun/tanning beds hits skin unprotected by sunscreen and causes DNA changes in the skin that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.
What are the visible signs of sun damage?
- Pigmentation changes such as age spots, lentigines, melasma, and freckles
- Decreased skin elasticity
- Rough and uneven skin texture
- Broken capillaries (spider veins)
- Redness and blotchiness
The sun can be a beautiful thing, but it's not always kind to your skin.
This post will guide you through the most effective professional treatments that can reverse sun-damage and prevent premature aging.
1. CHEMICAL PEELS
Often praised as the secret to youthful, glowing skin, chemical peels are one of the most popular treatments to reverse signs of sun damage. This non-invasive procedure uses a combination of solutions to improve the skin’s appearance and is one of the most effective options to treat sun damage, age spots, melasma, rosacea, acne and fine lines and wrinkles.
A chemical peel works by removing the outermost layers of your skin, revealing fresh, healthy, brighter skin underneath. The removal “peels” away areas of uneven pigmentation, precancerous lesions and fine lines, resulting in a radiant, more youthful complexion.
There are different levels of chemical peels depending on your skin type and what you are looking to achieve from the treatment. Depending on the severity of sun damage and the depth of the peel, chemical peels can be performed in a series or as a stand-alone treatment.
With minimal downtime, chemical peels are a fantastic option to reverse signs of sun damage without causing any scarring to the skin. Here are a few of our favorite peels to correct sun damage.
PCA PEEL | Superficial
Perfect for clients new to clinical skincare, PCA Professional skin peels offer a variety of superficial formulas that produce great results without the discomfort and downtime associated with regular skin peels.
PCA’s peels work by removing the outermost damaged layers of skin, to effectively treating sun damage, age spots, melasma, rosacea, acne and fine lines and wrinkles.
VI PEEL | Medium Depth
The VI Peel is one of the safest and most effective chemical peels to address signs of aging and UV damage. A client favorite, the VI Peel is a medium depth peel, which means it deeply exfoliates to the dermis, removing multiple layers of the skin for more dramatic results.
Multiple layers of discolored or damaged skin are cleared, eliminating years of built-up pigmentation, acne causing bacteria, hormonal melasma, rosacea, fine lines, and wrinkles all while stimulating collagen to refine the skin’s texture.
The VI Peel consists of a powerful blend of ingredients that remove damaged layers of the skin, promote cellular turnover and refine the surface layer for a more youthful, bright and smooth complexion. This is an exceptional choice for anyone looking to reduce or eliminate sunspots, hyperpigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles.
The VI Peel produces fantastic results with minimal downtime and little to no pain. Unlike many chemical peels, the VI Peel is safe and effective on all skin types, and can be used on the face, neck, chest, arms, legs, back and under eyes.
2. RADIOFREQUENCY MICRONEEDLING
RF Microneedling is second to none when it comes to dramatically improve skin laxity on the face, neck, and body, deep acne scarring, pigmentation, cellulite, stretch marks, and more
RF Microneedling is highly effective in addressing a variety of skin concerns such as wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, texture, acne, stretch marks, enlarged pores and scarring.
With traditional Microneedling, tiny needles painlessly penetrate various depths of the skin to create microinjuries in the skin. This triggers a natural healing process and stimulates the production of skin-firming proteins like collagen and elastin. New skin cells grow as the area heals, leaving the top layer of skin brighter and smoother than before.
With RF Microneedling, pulses of radiofrequency energy are delivered these punctures simultaneously.
The addition of radiofrequency amplifies collagen and elastin production to give you more dramatic results. RF Microneedling is exceptional for regenerating skin cells and accelerating cell turnover to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, age spots and uneven skin tone from sun damage.
The result is tighter, firmer, smoother skin over a series of 3-4 sessions spaced about 4 weeks apart.
3. LASER FACIALS
Several types of laser facials can be used to correct the appearance of sun damage and to improve the skin's appearance without undergoing invasive procedures like surgery. When used correctly, light-based, non-ablative and ablative laser treatments are all effective rejuvenation tools to improve the appearance of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, acne scars and other signs of aging.
Your esthetician can customize your laser treatment based on the severity of your condition. Laser treatments have grown in popularity because they often produce exceptional results with minimal downtime.
For sun damage, we love the Clear & Brilliant and the Candela Gmax Pro Photofacial.
CLEAR & BRILLIANT
Often referred to as the “baby fraxel” the Clear & Brilliant laser facial is a gentle way to lighten brown spots or melasma, clear acne, shrink pores, smooth scarring and soften fine lines and wrinkles.
The Clear & Brilliant laser creates microinjuries to the sub-dermal layers of the skin which stimulates a healing process whereby new, fresh, baby cells are created leaving you legitimately luminous!
While you will notice the initial glow after just one treatment, a visible reduction in fine lines and dark spots typically occur after completing a series of four to six treatments spaced about a month apart.
Clear & Brilliant is a great treatment for anyone looking to reverse early signs of aging with minimal downtime.
Insider Tip: Amplify results by combining a Clear & Brilliant treatment with an in-office chemical peel!
Want to wipe out sun damage in just one session?
The Candela Gmax Pro Photo Facial is an ideal laser treatment that eliminates mild sun damage, brown spots, broken capillaries, freckles and irregular pigmentation on the face, neck, arms, back, hands and chest without scarring. Typically, between 1-3 treatments are necessary to achieve the desired results.
The Photofacial is considered a noninvasive procedure, it works wonders on removing sun damage. Downtime is minimal, and the full results are seen within about 1 month.
Sun damage looks good on no one. Thankfully, there are some extraordinary in-office treatments to keep your skin looking radiant and youthful.
These treatments are the most effective when accompanied by a good skincare routine that includes daily use of a water-resistant, broad-spectrum SPF of 30+ on your face and body.
If you think you might have sun damage, Flash Lab has you covered! Our licensed estheticians will work closely with you to build a treatment plan designed exclusively for your needs.