How To Repair Damaged Skin

Shutterstock / Jacob Lund.

If your skin is losing elasticity, gaining fine lines, or feels inflamed, tight and dry, you may be facing barrier damage. “UVA and UVB can cause premature aging, sunburns, and increase the risk of skin cancer,” dermatologist, Dr. Camille Howard-Verović tells ESSENCE. Although sun exposure is a leading cause of skin damage, like prolonged pigmentation and sunspots, “overuse of chemical and mechanical exfoliants” can do more harm than good as you try to repair your skin. 

But this season, healing damaged skin may be easier than other times of year. “In office treatments, like chemical peels and lasers, may be better suited for cooler winter months,” Dr. Howard-Verović says. “With lower temperatures and reduced sun exposure, there’s less risk of complications like increased sensitivity to UV rays post-treatment.” From LED light therapy to microdermabrasion, continuing to repair your skin after treatment may be just as useful as the actual procedure. 

Below, Dr. Howard-Verović tells us how to repair skin damage: from using active ingredients to improving your daily routine.

Follow a 3-step routine

“Cleanse, moisturize and use sunscreen daily,” she says. “This seems pretty simple but you would be surprised how those three simple steps can improve your skin barrier.” 

Audit your actives 

“There is often an overlap in the ingredients in many over-the-counter cleansers, toners, serums and moisturizers,” she says. “Look for overlaps in ‘hydroxy acids’,” such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid.

Add retinol to your routine

“Retinoids can promote cell turnover, stimulate collagen production, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Dr. Howard-Verović. “It’s effective for treating sun damage and improving skin texture.”

Protect your sensitive skin

Skin damage can occur all over your body, not just your face. That said, “apply moisturizer to your hands frequently throughout the day,” she says, in addition to emollient oils for the lips.

Dr. Howard-Verović’s recommended post-treatment products

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