How to undo a summer’s worth of sun damage in 4 easy steps

sun damage
Credit: BROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Even if you haven’t set foot on an aeroplane this summer, you will have unwittingly incurred some sun damage, considering that 2018 is one of the driest, hottest summers on record. I know I have. What starts off as a ‘healthy glow’ ends up disintegrating into dry flaky skin, crepey hands and décolletage, residual pigmentation, and off- key, dehydrated hair that looks as if it’s had one too many the night before. Especially if hair is coloured, which, if you’re over 40, is probable.

I liken this end of summer melange of head-to-toe sun damage to a freshly cut apple that’s turned colour when left to the elements. And, like an extra five pounds of holiday weight, it sneaks up on you - usually right at the point you’re eyeing up next season’s coat styles. AKA now.

Even if you are suffering from a case of after sun guilt, parched skin and hair can be reversed pretty quickly with some light effort. Therefore, I’ve put into place an after-sun plan to revive my tattered extremities. These are the four emergency after-sun hacks I’d recommend to rewind the ageing effects of sun exposure and ensure your skin and hair make a seamless transition into autumn.

1. Clear

Daily sun cream and sweat can clogs pores and cause breakouts. Clear summer spots by switching up your cleansing routine until you’ve resumed your usual clear complexion. Frances Prenna Jones Super Clean £65 is like an oil change for skin. Containing antibacterial salicylic acid, it regulates oil production, cleans up spots and peps up a tired looking complexion. Similarly, Lancer The Method: Cleanse Blemish Control £48 is a good gentle cleanser that eradicates blemishes with salicylic acid, peppermint and tea tree oils. After cleansing, massage one drop of Votary Blemish Rescue Oil Tamanu and Salicylic £35, into damp skin to lift away dead skin cells, reduce redness and calm irritation.

2. Shine

As a backwash blonde, two holidays and a British heatwave has left my hair with a thirsty texture and slight orange tinge. You too? Take my colourist, Lucy Holbrook’s advice for reviving tired highlights – mix a little ascorbic acid powder (vitamin C) into your haircare to revive shine. I’ve been using The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder, £4.90 mixed into my usual conditioner, which I leave on to penetrate for 10 minutes or so.

This turns up the brilliance a notch, toning down the brassiness and boosting shine, which I find the fastest way to spruce up my colour in between salon visits. Ascorbic acid also works a treat on skin – blend a little powder into your serum or moisturiser on the back of your hand and apply to skin for a brighter, more even skin tone.

3. Brighten

An end-of-summer tan is akin to scuffed shoes – a little rough round the edges. Remember, as cute as freckles are, they are in truth another form of sun-induced pigmentation. If you are left with sun posts, you’ll need a light peel to dissolve the top layers of skin to resume an even glow. Allies of Skin Bright Future Sleeping Facial £110 is a powerful exfoliator that uses retinol and AHA’s (alpha hydroxyl acids) to brighten and smooth skin within two to three nights.

If you merely need a boost of radiance, I’ve had good results with Lumene Valo (Light) Glow Boost Essence £29.90  which combines vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to plump-up skin and enliven dullness. For something more potent, Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Formula £73, is a two-step exfoliant that encourages cell turnover, reduces pore size and smooths fine lines. With any acid skin peel, be sure to wear SPF.

4. Replenish

Sun sucks the moisture out of skin. Reverse the crepeyness with a hydration mask. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Power Foil Mask, £17, is one of the best sheet masks to deeply moisture face. Or try, Le Mer The Treatment Lotion Hydration Mask, £120 for a concentrated surge of hydration. For a deeply nourishing pot mask, I give props to Glossier Moisturising Moon Mask £18, with nourishing sweet almond oil and hyaluronic acid - slather on face and chest to plump up parched skin. For chest wrinkles, Skin Laundry Wrinkle Release Neck & Chest Sheet Mask £14 will refresh, tighten and brighten your décolletage area.

If, like me, your hands have taken on a temporary chicken skin appearance, there’s no better remedy than a paraffin wax manicure in salon. At home, CND SpaManicure Almond Illuminating Masque and Almond Moisture Scrub, £11.95 , is nearly as good. If nails are hard and brittle you’ll need to administer a nail oil to resume flexibility in the nail bed, which incidentally, is the secret to preventing breaks. CND Solar Oil, is a solid bet. Or invest in a pot of natural almond oil from any health food store.