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How to Reverse, Minimize, and Prevent Sun Damage, According to Skincare Experts

Model Rianne van Rompaey Discovers a Golden Surfer’s Paradise in Japan
Photograph by Colin Dodgson; Styled by Sara Moonves.
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The first place summer makes its mark is on your skin. How you treat your face and body during the hottest months will determine the condition of your complexion for the remainder of the year—and long-term, how you treat your skin in one cumulative year will impact its condition for the next decade.

There are simple remedies that help along your skin’s healing process before spots and scars set in. (I remember, years ago, frantically tracking down a skin expert I interviewed, Dr. Lamees Hamdan, after sustaining an inexplicable sunburn through a hat and several applications of SPF 50; she recommended taking chamomile tea, chilling it for a few hours in the fridge and then applying it to my face with a soaked towel. It worked beautifully.)

But what if you’re still suffering and need more? To arm you with all the tips and products you will need this wet, hot summer, we sought the expert advice of seven of the most renowned aestheticians. Not only do these talented skin mavens have the respect and admiration of the most beautiful faces on magazine covers, film and TV screens, and fashion runways, they have legitimate expertise in the skincare field. They shared their words of wisdom with us below to help our skin be its very best this summer—and throughout the year.

Ivan Pol, The Beauty Sandwich

The only sandwich fashion and film bigwigs have been clamoring for is a slot to receive Ivan Pol’s signature beauty sandwich facial. This multimodality skin treatment is by far the most coveted facial that preps, rejuvenates, and, frankly, sets the clock back—without having to poke you with some needle dripping with Botox. His European methodology and approach have earned him a top spot as one of the foremost aestheticians around the globe.

What are your go-to products for clients that help brighten, minimize, or reverse sun damage?

To help brighten the skin, my favorite is Chanel Le Blanc Sérum Healthy Light Creator. It’s a correcting face serum inspired by the precious pearls Gabrielle Chanel wore to illuminate her face. The serum helps diminish the appearance of dark spots using patented technology, and works exceptionally well.

Are there certain facials or tools you recommend that help fight pigmentation and the effects of the sun?

I love the SolaWave red light tool to help calm inflammation. I also recommend using the Calming Serum from Barbara Sturm after that light treatment.

Are there any additional tips you’d recommend keep skin as healthy as possible during the summer?

Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate: drink three to five liters of spring water with a pinch of grey salt. Also make sure you stay away from lasers and chemical peels that can make you more photosensitive in the summer months–that’s a no-brainer.

Candace Marino, The L.A. Facialist

Marino has risen quickly in the beauty ranks as a lauded skin whisperer. The Los Angeles-based guru delivers state of the art facial modalities that aim to restore, heal, and revitalize your skin.

What are some general summer skin tips you recommend?

When it comes to sun damage—or any form of hyperpigmentation for that matter—a few products need to be used regularly to ensure that the skin is doing two things: being protected from environmental aggressors that will exacerbate pigment, and being treated with pigment inhibitors that work on the melanocytes to reduce the production of melanin.

When a client comes to me with hyperpigmentation, I will typically recommend a few non-negotiable products. Number one is a vitamin C or antioxidant serum to help protect the cells while brightening the skin. My favorite vitamin C product is the new Alto Advanced Serum from Skin Better Science. Its technology helps to protect the cells, while reversing current damage done to them. It will actually reverse DNA damage done to the cells that is caused by external factors like the sun, as well as internal factors. This product also contains skin-brightening ingredients to help even the complexion. A great budget-friendly product is the Bliss Pro Multi-C Brightening Serum which contains antioxidants like vitamin C and niacinamide, alongside licorice root—a skin-brightening and pigment-inhibiting ingredient. Used morning and night, it will help to physically reduce discoloration from the sun, and will even target post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation left behind from acne. Second, some form of retinoid that will help speed up cellular turnover. Third, a specific pigment-inhibiting serum. Lastly, a sunscreen, because there’s no point in investing in skincare if you are not going to protect your skin from the sun. I love the Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen.

Are there certain facials or tools you recommend to help fight pigmentation and the effects of the sun?

The best way to fight pigmentation during months of high sun exposure is to be diligent with your skin care routine and SPF. Most treatments for pigment (peels and lasers) will be counteracted if you have plans to be on vacation or live a very active lifestyle outdoors. Typically, providers will recommend waiting for a period where you can avoid sun exposure to undergo these treatments.

Are there any additional summer tips you recommend to help keep skin as healthy as possible?

Sunscreen is imperative. Daily use of sunscreen is the best way to keep the skin healthy and beautiful. If you’re outside for long periods of time, be sure to reapply every 90 minutes at minimum (or as directed on the bottle). Wearing hats and sunglasses can also help protect the skin, as well as UPF clothing. For skin that is dry and damaged from too much sun exposure, I like to recommend calming, soothing, and strengthening products like the Bliss Mighty Biome Pre/Post Biotics + Barrier Aid—a ceramide-rich recovery balm aimed to help replenish and repair damaged, dry complexions. It contains beta glucan, a humectant and skin healer.

Georgia Louise, Georgia Louise Atelier

Expertly managing the complexions of Linda Evangelista, Cate Blanchett, and Karlie Kloss, respected skincare expert Georgia Louise prefers supergentle products. It’s no wonder her unique skin philosophy has garnered the respect and following of multitudes of high-profile clients on both coasts.

What are your go-to products for clients to help brighten, minimize, and reverse sun damage?

There are several that I really think help within this realm: Biologique Recherche’s PIGM 400 serum, lotion, and masque, Georgia Louise’s Vitamin A Complex No. 1 Serum, and the Environ Mela-fade System.

What are some tips you recommend to help keep skin as healthy as possible during the summer months?

You should load up on antioxidant serums that help to protect against UVA and UVB rays. I suggest using, twice daily, the Environ Vita-Peptide C-Quence Serum 1 for beginners and Environ Multi-Bioactive Mela-Prep Lotion which helps to prevent sun damage by blocking the melanocytes from being activated. I also suggest exfoliating more frequently, aiming for twice a week, so the product ingredients work deeper, and making sure you have lipid barrier protection by using the Georgia Louise Vital Finishing Serum with natural ceramides. Of course, use a trusted SPF and reapply every 3 hours when outdoors. I love the La Mer SPF 50 UV Protecting Fluid and Charlotte Tilbury’s Invisible Flawless Primer SPF 50

Gina Marí, Gina Marí Skincare

Marí, the L.A.-based skin virtuoso noted for her glowing facials and cutting-edge techniques, has been a longtime proponent of high-grade vitamins A and C to assist in skin healing, helping minimize the effects of sun damage. Her methodology for skincare is unique and advanced, as her clients see the benefits of her process long after the facial.

What are your go-to products for clients to help brighten their skin and reverse sun damage?

Products containing key ingredients such as vitamin A and vitamin C are my absolute go-to for brightening skin and reversing sun damage. Agent Nateur’s holi (c) combined with their holi (water) delivers a wonderful combination of both vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. This duo helps to brighten and hydrate simultaneously. The vitamin C is in powder form and won’t oxidize, which I love. Ayur-Medic’s retinol cream is a favorite of mine as it “gently” introduces the skin to the brightening benefits of vitamin A without being too harsh or aggressive.

Are there any additional summer tips you want to share that keep skin as healthy as possible?

I believe it’s important to understand the difference between Am and PM skincare routines, especially during the summer months. I recommend using actives such as vitamins A and C in the evening while your skin is repairing and restoring and protective ingredients such as titanium, and zinc oxide during the day while the focus is on protecting the skin.

Are there certain types of facials or tools you recommend that help fight pigmentation and the effects of the sun?

I am a forever fan of LED light therapy, whether it is performed in an office or at home. Providing the nanometers and power of the device are correct, LED light therapy works on a cellular level to not only help with pigmentation, it will also improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and help with all-over skin health.

Joomee Song, Joomee Song Inc.

While Song’s extensive A-list clientele is mostly comprised of Hollywood elites, her intense dermal training hails from the most advanced and highly regarded skin philosophies. Her decades of skin experience in Asia have provided her unmatched skills to execute and educate a long list of famed cover, runway, and red carpet fixtures across the globe.

What is the most important piece of summer skincare advice you impart upon your clients?

When you have sun damage, the key is to treat it right away—ideally, on the same day. Vitamin C L-ascorbic acid is the ingredient to help with the inflammation after sun damage, so you can combat it before the brown spots start to appear. It works by blocking the production of pigment, and it has anti-inflammatory benefits to soothe the skin. My go-to is Cellex-C High Potency Serum or Cellex-C Serum for Sensitive Skin. Cellex-C pioneered topical vitamin C and started the trend, which many pharmaceutical skincare companies have since adopted.

Another product I like and recommend is SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. I can’t say enough good things about this serum! It is such a versatile product for treating and preventing future sun damage. Vitamin C is used as a sunscreen ingredient in Japan, where I come from, so I recommend the daily use of these products to anyone who suffers from pigmentation issues.

Are there any additional summer tips you can share to help keep skin as healthy as possible?

I recommend keeping a bottle of glycerin in the fridge and using it as a mask immediately after a sunburn and for a few days after. Simply dilute the glycerin with a little bit of water and apply it directly to the affected area. Leave it for about 10 minutes and rinse gently with water. A little residue is okay to leave on the skin overnight. Suitable for everyday use, it hydrates and calms the skin.

Are there specific facials or tools you recommend that help fight pigmentation and the effects of the sun?

I like SK-II’s Brightening Derm Revival Mask to treat pigmentation, because the brand has a long history of producing some of the best brightening skincare products on the market. I prefer to keep the mask in the fridge to cool down the inflammation further when you apply it.

Facial massage is another essential tool when recovering from sun damage, because it helps to stimulate blood flow to the affected area. All you need are your hands and this link. If you love to use a tool, I recommend ReFa since it’s intuitive to use and extremely gentle on the skin while it’s in recovery mode. And if you use a tool, I always advise my clients to finish their massage using their hands. Our fingers have sensory memory that tools don’t, and you can determine where your skin is at in the healing process by feeling its texture.

Joanna Vargas, Joanna Vargas Skincare

A cherished and skilled fixture behind the scenes of a multitude of red-carpet complexions, veteran aesthetician Vargas has long touted the regenerative powers of antioxidants and sunscreen to help skin reach its ultimate potential.

What are your go-to products to help brighten and reverse sun damage?

I would invest in a vitamin C serum, like my Rescue Vitamin C + Squalane Serum. It protects skin against sun damage, damage from pollution and cell mutation. A good exfoliating mask is also key. My Exfoliating Mask contains fruit enzymes to boost cell turnover and brighten skin. It also contains lactic acid and volcanic ash to draw out impurities, dirt, and oil from your pores, as well as Galactoarabinan. It’s an anti-inflammatory, so it’s perfect for even the most sensitive skin.

Sunscreen is a crucial component to smart skincare—especially in the heat. MDSolarSciences is probably my favorite sunscreen line, offering both chemical and physical blocks to protect from future damage. I love the Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50, which goes on easily, even though it’s a mineral-based sunscreen. It’s also excellent protection for people like me who tend to get melasma on the face easily. Also, I love SuperGoop Mineral Powder because it’s SPF 45 and can be reapplied, even over makeup.

Using a retinol at night regularly will boost collagen production and increase cell turnover. My formula is gentle enough to use around the eye area as well, which is important for addressing fine lines. My Twilight Face Mask is great as a post-sun skin saver. It contains epidermal growth factor, which is a type of peptide or protein chain that was developed specifically to speed up wound healing at the cellular level. It’s unique in its ability to repair damaged skin, and in skincare, it’s helpful for repairing sun damage and repairing skin mutation from environmental stress. I always recommend using healing ingredients like EGF for making the skin feel more hydrated, soothed, and glowing.

Are there any additional tips you can share to keep skin as healthy as possible?

I always tell my clients that as you get older, the sun is the cause of everything you will complain about in regards to your skin. It leads to cell mutation, pigment, elasticity issues, and lines. I also highly recommend dry brushing for full body exfoliation. Dry brushing increases blood flow, which is healthy, but its main purpose is to stimulate collagen production which will help to thicken the skin and lessen the appearance of fat cells. It also dramatically increases elasticity, so it's great for lifting and toning a problem area. Start at the tops of the feet and brush upwards towards the heart. Spend extra time on areas that tend to be more stagnant, like the inner thigh, and don't forget to include the backs of the arms and the back.

Vanessa Hernandez, Vanessa Hernandez Skincare

Hernandez, famed for her magic hands that expertly clear and lift skin, is a major proponent of vitamin C as a skin healer and damage preventer, and microdermabrasion coupled with LED lights.

What are your go-to products for clients to help brighten and reverse sun damage?

Hands down, vitamin C is my No. 1 go-to for overall skin health which includes brightening, reversing signs of aging, and protecting from potential future damage. My two favorites are: SkinCeuticals Phloretin (my favorite medical-grade, clinically tested vitamin C) or Beauty Counter All Bright Vitamin C (my favorite “clean” and natural vitamin C). Make sure to apply both every morning on your face, neck, and décolleté.

Are there any overarching tips you can share that keep skin as healthy as possible?

Summer usually calls for extra SPF and reapplication daily. Make sure to use a stronger gel-based cleanser to remove excess SPF, makeup, and sweat to avoid breakouts and unwanted congestion. If you want to take your cleansing to the next level of clean, incorporate a washcloth or eco-friendly reusable bamboo rounds like My Kitsch products.

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