Having a gorgeous tan always feels great, but it’s temporary. The sun damage that comes from a tan or sun exposure without SPF, however, is long term and almost always permanent. While we can’t go back in time and put on sunscreen, we can invest in an arsenal of products that will make our skin look like it once did. With the help of the best products for sun-damaged skin, it’s possible to clear up some of the reminders we have on our faces and bodies from days of forgotten sunscreen and tanning oil. But first, it helps to know what sun damage is.
What is sun damage?
We’re all familiar with sunburns, sun rashes, and even sun poisoning, but what about the more permanent damage that is left after the redness subsides and the tan fades? There are many different forms of sun damage, but below are some of the more common ones, especially for women over 50.
- Crow’s feet: Also known as laugh lines, these small wrinkles that frame the corners of your eyes come from long-term sun exposure and squinting. Smile lines can also develop around your mouth.
- Sun spots: These dark-colored spots — also referred to as age spots or liver spots — are cousins to freckles, but they typically develop after you hit your thirties. They also don’t fade as easily as their minor counterparts.
- Wrinkles: One of the main causes of wrinkles is the sun. Prolonged exposure without SPF can cause wrinkles and fine lines develop prematurely.
- Moles and freckles: Formed from clumps of cells, these dots can grow darker after sun exposure. They’re usually harmless, but you should have a doctor routinely check them for cancer.
- Dryness and eczema: The sun can be very drying for your skin, especially when it’s already lacking hydration and proper protection. Eczema can also be exacerbated from sun exposure and a sun allergy.
- Hyperpigmentation: Long periods of time in the sun can lead to permanent color on your face. This can manifest as freckles and moles or sun spots and large patches of darkened skin.
How does sun damage skin?
When UVB and UVA rays come in contact with our skin, the body’s melanin can develop into things like moles, sun spots, and melasma. UV rays also create free radicals, which damage living cells. While your body uses antioxidants to fight off free radicals, long-term damage causes premature aging, deep lines, and wrinkles.
Can sun damage be reversed?
While you can’t erase every last trace of sun damage, you’d be surprised at how much your skin can transform with the right products and choices. The big one to remember? Always apply and reapply SPF daily. Whether it’s snowing outside or sweltering, sunblock will prevent sun damage, which can be a heck of a lot easier than reversing it!
If you already have sun damage, there are plenty of options that can help fix it. Exfoliating every three to four days can be beneficial for getting rid of dead skin and hyperpigmentation as well as revealing new, healthy skin. Staying hydrated will also aid in preventing and reducing these issues. To top it all off, throwing in high-quality skincare products formulated specifically for sun-damaged skin into your routine can be a huge help.
Best Products for Sun Damaged Skin
From creams and oils to lotions and overnight facials, treating sun damage is much easier than it used to be. Keep scrolling to shop Woman’s World’s picks for the best products for sun damage that’ll help erase, brighten, and smooth your complexion.
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Best Treatment For Sun Damage
1. Best Lotion for Sun-Damaged Skin
Where to buy: $100, Sephora
Post sun damage, you need a product that will refresh and rehydrate your skin. Estée Lauder Micro Essence Skin Activating Treatment Lotion features a yeast called bifida ferment lysate and the bacteria lactobacillus ferment, both of which are powerful ingredients that have been shown to counteract skin oxidation caused by UV light. Signs of aging and injury from the sun will begin to disappear with use, leaving you with a soft, youthful complexion.
Best Cream For Wrinkles
2. Best Night Cream for Sun-Damaged Skin
Where to buy: $48, Sephora
Do you feel like you have no time to remove harm caused by the sun? This is completely understandable; those 10-step skin-care routines can often seem exhausting and time consuming. Now, here's the good news. Spend five minutes slathering on Korres' Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial before bed and leave it on overnight. In the morning, you'll notice your skin is visibly smoother with even tone and texture. Loss of elasticity caused by aging can also be improved after including this in your nighttime ritual.
Treatment For Sun Damaged Skin
3. Best Treatment for Sun-Damaged Skin
Where to buy: $105, Dermstore
Whether you were blessed with good genes or not, Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment makes beautiful skin possible no matter your genetic makeup. The lactic acid in this product falls under the category of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which are popular skincare ingredients known for their abilities to resurface the skin, eliminate signs of aging, and minimize breakouts. Aloe and licorice are also key players in this mix, soothing your complexion and reducing hyperpigmentation.
How To Reverse Sun Damage
4. Best Cream for Sun Damage on Hands
Where to buy: $60, Amazon
Sun damage doesn't just appear on your face. Mature sun-damaged skin can present itself practically anywhere, often appearing on your hands, décolletage, neck, and arms. Nia 24 Sun Damage Repair for Décolletage and Hands is the best sun damage treatment for places other than your face. It's easy to neglect these parts of your body when you go through your skincare routine, so having this cream on hand is a good way to give some love to the rest of you. The niacinamide in the moisturizer is an effective vitamin that clears up sun damage with ease.
Best Organic Sun Damage Treatment
5. Best Oil for Sun Damage
Where to buy: $21.99, Amazon
Teddie Organics Organic Rosehip Seed Oil was made to emulate the skincare habits of the Mapuche tribe in Chile. They use rosehip seed oil to combat the harsh weather conditions and maintain healthy, youthful skin. This oil contains high concentrations of omega-3, -6, and -9 fatty acids, which contribute to a whole host of skin benefits. UV damage, stretch marks, scars, dryness, itchiness, and eczema are just a few of the conditions that this product can treat.
Best Retinol For Sun Damage
6. Best Retinol for Sun Damage
Where to buy: $72, Sephora
The gold mine of skincare is retinol, a wrinkle-fighting, acne-treating, fine line-reducing, texture-evening, hyperpigmentation-erasing skincare powerhouse ingredient. One downside of retinol is that it can irritate and dry the skin. Fortunately, Biossance's Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum takes care of this issue because its retinol is derived from bakuchiol, a plant extract, inside of a vitamin. The squalane included in this specific formula only adds to its anti-aging capabilities and provides your skin with plenty of moisture.
Whitening Sun Damage
7. Best Skin-Care Product for Sun-Damaged Skin and Dark Spots
Where to buy: $29, Dermstore
Paula's Choice Resist Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser 7% AHA Lotion is a potent lotion that can help fade and remove visible melanin that's become too dark. Because this product has lightening ingredients, it's important to use it as a spot treatment. Dab it on sun spots and areas of hyperpigmentation with a cotton swab for the best results. Hydroquinone and glycolic acid are the two featured compounds and help remove darkness and uneven skin tone. Hydroquinone prevents your skin from overproducing melanin, the main cause of discoloration, while glycolic acid works as a powerful AHA to exfoliate and tone.
Best Mask For Sun Damage
8. Best Sun Damage Face Mask
Where to buy: $20.98, Amazon
Face masks are a fun way to incorporate self-care in your skincare routine. The Moisture Recovery Sheet Masks by Eve Hansen are perfect for helping heal skin harmed by the sun. Antioxidants and plant extracts work together to reduce redness, soothe sun damage, hydrate parched skin, and even out skin tone. The serum on the mask penetrates the skin deeply, leaving you with only one job — sit back and relax.
Vitamin C Sun Damage
9. Best Sun Damage Serum
Where to buy: $35.99, Amazon
Vitamin C is the queen of antioxidants and a must-have ingredient for sun safety. The antioxidants in vitamin C provide protection from the sun at a cellular level by defending against UV rays and preventing oxidation of the skin. TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum helps brighten and firm skin. This serum also stimulates collagen, which can help plump out fine lines and wrinkles and fill in sunkenness.