Those blissful weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day seem to fly by, especially with naps in the park under the sweet, warm sunshine and vacation-hopping with those you love most. But while the sweat, sand, salt and the vibe of summer is pretty much unparalleled to any season, it does have a major impact on your skin.
Not only do the hot temperatures and humidity dry out your pores, but sweat can clog them, and constant sun exposure can cause early signs of aging and pose potential UV dangers. Luckily, experts say a check-up visit with your dermatologist, a professional in-office treatment and some at-home remedies can give your skin the post-summer detox it craves and needs.
Here are some ideas for cleansing and repairing your skin, just in time for the leaves to fall and the air to cool.
During the summertime, dermatologists shy away from performing chemical peels. Why? Because this in-office procedure exfoliates your skin, revealing a fresh layer that can be vulnerable to sun exposure. But in the fall season, cosmetic physician Dr. Stanley Kovak says chemical peels and microdermabrasion are an ideal course of action right after summer, before fall activities start booking up your calendar. Because you’ll need at least a few days up to a week to recover at home, you want to make sure you block out healing time. If you do decide to do this treatment at home, Dr. Kovak recommends selecting a mild chemical peel and a device with a diamond tip to remove the top layer of sun-damaged skin.
For a more intensive post-summer treatment, director of cosmetic and clinical research at dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Joshua Zeichner, suggests trying a fraxel laser treatment to truly exfoliate, cleanse and improve your skin. “Oftentimes, high levels of sun exposure can cause excess pigmentation and damage to skin cells themselves,” he explains. “Lasers like fraxel are ideal to use as part of your post-summer skin rehab routine.” How does it work? Dr. Zeichner explains fraxels punch tiny holes in your skin and the laser creates a controlled wound, allowing the skin to heal itself in a more “cosmetically acceptable manner.” “The laser improves skin tone and texture and even helps undo precancerous changes to skin cells themselves,” he adds.
For most who are starting to consider anti-aging measures, finding a retinol or tretinoin (both derivatives of vitamin A) product is key. Retinol products have been used for decades, working to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, due to their photoreactive nature, they can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage, so they’re usually not recommended in the summertime. In the fall, though, they can be used more frequently, as long as you don’t experience redness or pain. Dermatologist Dr. Janet H. Prystowsky explains these creams work to gradually shed a layer of skin, not only cleansing your skin from summer’s impact, but making it look younger, too. She also adds that skin-brightening serums—both with vitamin C or without it—can also improve the condition of your pores, without being as intense as retinol varieties.
While you might have been hyperfocused on reapplying sunscreen to your face, it’s not just your cheeks and forehead that battled through summer. As Dr. Kovak explains, your neck, chest and hands also received a big brunt of UV exposure and they deserve some autumn TLC, too. To repair other parts of your body, he suggests opting for a photofacial laser treatment, which is a more extensive rejuvenation treatment that improves the overall look of the skin by diminishing brown spots and blotchiness, while improving collagen and elastic fibers throughout your skin’s several layers. How does it work? Pulses of light are used to penetrate deep into your skin, which causes your blood vessels to constrict. It’s not painful, but it requires a little downtime post-treatment.
For a more low-key approach to fall treatments, remember just one to-do-list item after you get home from work: moisturize! As Dr. Kovak reminds, “Rejuvenating the skin after the summer’s damage is important for the overall appearance and health of our skin and ultimately prepares us for the winter season, which can be as damaging to our skin as the summer season,” he says. While you’re cooking dinner (or tuning in to the return of your favorite primetime shows), apply a moisturizing face mask that will seep into your pores, helping them to replenish after weeks of dry heat. He also adds that your morning routine should still consist of applying moisturizer with an SPF, but that you can opt for a thicker formula, now that summer is coming to a close. And if you do nothing else, drink plenty of water! Good old-fashioned H2O is always a smart choice for your skin as it keeps it fresh, hydrated and healthy.
Consider everything your feet have been through the past few months: trekking down stony or sandy beaches, squeezing into damp water shoes, trailblazing through rocky paths in thick hiking boots, fighting sweat (and ahem, stink) in athletic shoes and much more. Dr. Prystowsky recommends giving them a tad more attention as you approach the fall season, especially if they’re feeling rough or cracked. To their rescue is lactic acid moisturizers. “The lactic acid exfoliates to reveal fresher and softer skin beneath it,” she explains.