A Primer on Summer Skin Repair
Indeed, says Ortega, tough skin is damaged skin, so a gentle treatment is needed to remove the old cells. To do the job right, Ortega suggests a soft "sugar scrub," which gently removes old cells without harming new ones getting ready to surface from underneath.
What you should definitely avoid: "Any harsh treatment, like a body salt rub, or a scrub made from walnuts or apricot pits, or even some herbal rubs, can all be traumatizing to skin that is already damaged," Ortega tells WebMD.
If you feel your skin may be too irritated for even the softest exfoliating scrub, experts say try a gentle alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), a product that can chemically lift away dead skin cells over the course of several treatments.
"Your goal should always be to eliminate cell buildup without further injuring the skin," Asquith says.
Rebalance, Replenish, Renew Your Skin
Regardless of the method you use to remove the old cells, once that's accomplished, Asquith says we not only need to bathe our skin in moisturizers, but also to choose products that will regenerate, replenish, and rebalance it. Among the best, she says, are those which contain soothing, nourishing botanicals including borage, lupin, olive, and wheat germ oils, as well as essential fatty acids.
"When we think of these oils, we think of nourishing cells, and that's exactly what the skin's cells need -- and that's exactly what these kinds of ingredients will provide," says Asquith.
What can also help: A new skin moisturizing technology known as lamellar liquid crystals.
"This mimics the lamellar structure of the stratum corneum (a layer of skin), so it reinforces the natural hydrating system and strengthens the lipid barrier, protecting the skin from any further water loss," Asquith tells WebMD.
But as you may already know, skin damaged from sun and sea is not your only summer beauty woe. Experts say a very specific type of seasonal skin irritation can occur if you spent your summer doused in insect repellent, particularly one with high concentrations of the active ingredient DEET.
"These products can really aggravate the skin, and if you put these preparations on areas that are already inflamed from exposure to the elements, it can cause a kind of dermatitis that can be quite irritating and even painful," says Jerome Shupack, MD, a professor of dermatology at NYU School of Medicine.