Spotted: Sun Damage
Her sunny disposition just got a little darker—in the form of solar-induced hyperpigmentation, fine lines, leathery skin and scorched strands. For hair, the fact that it can’t repair itself should be reason enough to baby it. Remember, the sun delivers free radicals that break down hair’s existing keratin, and cause the usually flat cuticle scales to lift, leaving her with a rather dull, straw hat of hair. Deep-conditioning products that plug up her now-porous locks with reconstructing keratin, lipids and proteins; help smooth and seal the cuticle; and deliver antioxidant defense from future damage will have her sun-baked strands on the mend—and looking lustrous—in no time.
For skin, which is very much a living tissue, the story is different. In theory, to attack past dermal photoaging, “we must repair the skin, promote cell oxygenation, and increase the number of healthy cells,” says Caroline Rushworth, Sothys USA director of education. She adds that adequately hydrating the skin helps stimulate the synthesis of dermal proteins (those plumping and firming heroes: collagen and elastin) and increases the hyaluronic acid concentration (skin’s tissue repair mechanism—which is greatly compromised by UVB exposure). Currently, topical retinoids, glycolic acid products, growth factors, and laser/light procedures show promise in evening skin tone and stimulating collagen and elastin degraded by sun exposure, notes Dr. Derick. But she’s quick to add, “The key to treating sun damage is to be sure to decrease all unnecessary future exposure to sun by wearing sunscreen and practicing sun avoidance.”