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To find out how to prevent and minimize the long-term effects of sun exposure (and any short-term discomfort), we spoke to Stephanie Daga, the founder and senior skin specialist at Fresh.Beautiful: The Skin Studio. She shares five tips for preventing, treating and correcting sun damage.
1. Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated
The best way to ward off sun damage is to ensure your skin is protected from the sun at all times, says Daga. There are plenty of sunscreens to choose from that are specifically for your face and that absorb quickly, don't feel greasy and won't clog pores.
"There's really no excuse not to get SPF into your routine," says Daga. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that will protect from both UVA and UVB rays.
It's also important to treat your skin well and to protect your body from the inside. "People who take care of their skin by staying properly hydrated, moisturizing daily and maintaining good cleansing habits are going to feel the effects of sun damage less," Daga explains.
2. Soothe a burn
Even the most sun-smart among us can end up getting too much sun. If you have a sunburn, the first thing to do is to apply a cold compress to help alleviate any discomfort.
"Apply a cool compress or soothing balm -- anything to make you feel more comfortable and to soothe the inflammation and redness," says Daga.
A cold compress will help bring down swelling and will also relieve the itchiness that most sunburns cause. Cooling products, such as all-natural aloe gel, can also help soothe your skin and take away some of the initial sting.
Page 1 of 2 -- Have you ever tried to cover your sunburns with makeup? Find out why you should avoid this on page 2.
3. Stay natural
Until the trauma of your sunburn wears off, Daga recommends using only all-natural skin care products. "Natural is best, easiest and less irritating," she explains.
"When you get sunburned, your skin becomes quite sensitive, so you'll feel the sting and irritation with any chemical-based products."
This might mean switching out your usual products for new products that are free of dyes, fragrance and other potential irritants until the redness of your skin subsides.
"You're going to be sensitive to the ingredients in your usual skin-care regimen, so you have to play it very safe," Daga says. She also suggests using essential oils like rosehip, which can help minimize irritation and soften your skin.
4. Avoid makeup
Despite the temptation to cover up your sunburn with everything in your makeup case, you should stay away from most beauty products when your skin is in repair mode.
"Less is best," maintains Daga. "If you can go without product for as long as it takes for your skin to heal, that's the best option," she says.
If you can't bear the thought of wearing nothing on your face, opt for a tinted moisturizer rather than foundation, as it provides a much lighter coverage. Try Bobbi Brown Extra SPF 25 Tinted Moisturizing Balm, a multi-tasking skin-saver that will moisturize your skin, even out your skin tone and give your skin a dewy look that's perfect for summer.
Lip gloss and mascara can also help keep you looking polished, and Daga stresses covering up and staying out of the sun. "A nice hat with a wide brim is probably your best bet," she says.
5. Consider clinical treatments
While it's impossible to turn back time, you can take some steps to correct any existing sun damage you might have. "People can undergo microdermabrasion, which is a great way to remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin," explains Daga. The result is fresher, younger-looking skin.
"For dark spots or sunspots, there is the skin lightener hydroquinone. Available by prescription or over the counter, it has to be used sparingly. If you use it too liberally, you're going to have an uneven skin tone," she warns.
As for fine lines and wrinkles, there are countless creams and serums aimed at erasing sun damage. "There are a plethora of products that plump up, fill in and lift any sagging skin," Daga says. Just remember that results aren't immediate and will vary from person to person. "There are many ways to correct and minimize the negative effects of sun damage. You just have to do your research and weigh your options," she says. Look for products with fine-line-fighting ingredients such as vitamins C and E, retinol, peptides and alpha hydroxy acids.
With countless sun protection products readily available, preventing sun damage should be easy. However, in the case of sunburns or existing sun damage, there are still ways to soothe your skin and curb the effects of too much time spent in the sun.
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