Skin Care: A Primer on Summer Skin Repair (cont.)
"You can't get the moisture deep enough into the skin unless you exfoliate it first, meaning you've got to rid your skin of the dead cells on the top layer, so whatever product you are using to re-hydrate can penetrate deep enough into the cells to combat the dehydration that has occurred," says Asquith.
And while this may seem like a simple enough process, experts also say it's also where some of us go wrong.
"Many people seem to think that if their skin feels and looks leathery or tough that it needs a harsh exfoliation treatment, like an aggressive scrub, but that's not true," says Barbara Shumann- Ortega, skin care expert, educator, and VP of Wilma Schumann Skin Care in Coral Gables, Fla.
Indeed, says Ortega, tough skin is damaged skin, so a gentle treatment is needed to remove the old cells. To do the job right, Ortega suggests a soft "sugar scrub," which gently removes old cells without harming new ones getting ready to surface from underneath.
What you should definitely avoid: "Any harsh treatment, like a body salt rub, or a scrub made from walnuts or apricot pits, or even some herbal rubs, can all be traumatizing to skin that is already damaged," Ortega tells WebMD.
If you feel your skin may be too irritated for even the softest exfoliating scrub, Asquith says try a gentle alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), a cream that can chemically lift away dead skin cells over the course of several treatments. AHAs containing 4% or less acid content are considered mild.
"Your goal should always be to eliminate cell buildup without further injuring the skin, and a mild AHA product can do that, particularly if you don't try to undo all the damage in a single treatment," says Asquith.
Rebalance, Replenish, Renew Your Skin
Regardless of the method you use to remove the old cells, once that's accomplished, Asquith says we not only need to bathe our skin in moisturizers, but also to choose products that will regenerate, replenish, and rebalance it. Among the best, she says, are those which contain soothing, nourishing botanicals including borage, lupin, olive, and wheat germ oils, as well as essential fatty acids.
"When we think of these oils, we think of nourishing cells, and that's exactly what the skin's cells need -- and that's exactly what these kinds of ingredients will provide," says Asquith.
What can also help: A new skin moisturizing technology known as lamellar liquid crystals.
"This mimics the lanolin structure of the stratis corneum [a layer of skin], so it reinforces the natural hydrating system and strengthens the lipid barrier, protecting the skin from any further water loss," Asquith tells WebMD.
But as you may already know, skin damaged from sun and sea is not your only summer beauty woe. Experts say a very specific type of seasonal skin irritation can occur if you spent your summer doused in insect repellent, particularly one with high concentrations of the active ingredient DEET.