Skin Care: A Primer on Summer Skin Repair (cont.)

If you must continue to use a repellent into the later days of summer or even early fall, Shupack tells WebMD a heavy duty unscented moisturizer should be applied first, to coat the skin and form a barrier between you and the repellant. In addition, Shupack says wear insect repellent only as long as you have to, showering it off as soon as you are back indoors, and putting on clean clothes that haven't been in contact with the offending chemicals.

In a similar scenario, Shupack tells WebMD that skin can also become irritated, red, and inflamed by chemicals found in sunscreen. When this is the case, he says, stop using the sunscreen immediately, but don't stop protecting your skin.

"People seem to forget that clothing is one of the best sunscreens you can have, so just make sure to cover up when you go outdoors, particularly if your skin it's already irritated or inflamed, and use plenty of unscented moisturizer," says Shupack.

Facing Fall With Great Skin

While for many of us repairing our overstressed body complexion is the biggest seasonal challenge, for others it's the skin on our face that's in need of the most help. Indeed, doctors say that by summer's end they see an increase in not only a darkening of freckles, sunspots, and melasma, (a pigmentation "mask" across cheeks and nose) but also more acne breakouts.

"Generally the sun is good for acne, but if you get too much it can exacerbate breakouts," says dermatologist Vicki Rapaport, MD, a dermatologist and medical director of the skin care boutique Kelologie in Beverly Hills. When acne is caused by too much sun exposure, she says simply staying out of direct sunlight should help skin clear up.

"What you don't want to do is use any harsh acne treatments, or harsh peels, particularly if your skin is also inflamed or dry from the summer elements," says Rapaport.

To cope with very dark freckles and age spots, Rapaport tells WebMD prescription skin lighteners like TriLuma work best. Otherwise, she says, simply staying out of the sun and using a sunscreen every time you go outdoors will do the trick.

"Often, this will help sun-induced freckles and some discolorations to fade on their own," says Rapaport.

Like the body, the skin on your face can also quickly dehydrate in summer, leaving your skin looking not just dry, but also more wrinkled and older. While experts say this causes many women to turn to face peels at summer's end, this could be a big mistake.

"After summer, many women they think they can just strip their skin and start fresh. But after all the environmental assaults of the summer season, a face peel is much too harsh and can open you up for many more problems," says Ortega.

The best course of treatment, she says, is to steam the skin lightly, then use a gentle exfoliating product (like a mild alpha- or beta-hydroxy acid or a sugar scrub) followed by a hydrating facial, particularly one containing collagen. As a final step, she says skip the creams and lotions and slather on a skin serum designed to rehydrate cells.

"Serums generally absorb faster and penetrate deeper than a cream or lotion, so they're best if your skin is really in need of moisture," says Ortega.

If your face or body has sustained any serious sun damage, particularly a sunburn, Asquith says products containing vitamin C, particularly serums, can help overcome some of the damage to your cells. Studies show that this, in turn, may also help reduce your risk of skin cancer later in life.

In addition, if your skin has suffered a sunburn, research shows that properties found in green tea may also help neutralize some of the damage as well as help your damaged skin heal more quickly.

Originally published Aug. 11, 2004.
Medically updated August 2005.

SOURCES: Karen Asquith, director of aesthetic training, G.M. Collin, Paris. Barbara Shumann-Ortega, skin care expert, educator; vice-president, Wilma Schumann Skin Care, Coral Gables, Fla. Jerome Shupack, MD, professor of dermatology, NYU School of Medicine, New York. Vicki Rapaport, MD, dermatologist, medical director of Kelologie, Beverly Hills, Calif.

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Last Editorial Review: 8/19/2004 10:22:24 PM