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How to Reverse Sun Damage: 7 Ways to Heal Your Skin After a Long, Hot Summer

From serums to lasers, the best ways to do damage control after a summer in the sun.

Brightening serums from Sisley Paris and Dr Barbara Sturm. Sisley Paris, Dr. Barbara Sturm

Any dermatologist will say that it’s better to prevent sun damage in the first place than to try and fix the aftermath. But alas, things happen: Sometimes we forget to apply sun protection or neglect to re-apply. We all know about the necessity of wearing sunscreen—but what about mitigating the sun’s toll after the damage has been done?

According to top Boston dermatologist Dr. Papri Sarkar, sun damage is actually threefold, as “the different types of UV radiation hit different depths of the skin.” On the most superficial levels, UV rays can cause dark spots as our natural pigment cells take up more space to protect our skin and dilated blood vessels spur the creation of red and brown marks. Diving deeper, UV rays also damage the skin’s cellular foundation of elastin and collagen, which yields a battery of aging effects: wrinkles and folds, sagging, loss of plumpness. On the deepest levels, UV rays damage our DNA, and those mutations can cause skin cancer.

“The unfortunate thing is that sun feels amazing,” says Dr. Sarkar, noting that a summer of unprotected beach days poses health risks long after the season ends. “That’s why you need to think of sunscreen as a shield. The point is to block the sun from absorbing into the skin or absorbing as deeply into the skin.” She recommends Supergoop’s Play SPF 50 mist, which not only blocks UV rays, but also contains helpful antioxidants to protect your skin from grime and environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke.

If you’ve slacked on the SPF this summer, now’s a good time to start exploring which products can do damage control. From topical serums to incorporate into your daily skincare routine to big guns that’ll keep redness, burst blood vessels and dark spots at bay, here are seven of the best remedies.

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