I was always an indoors person. Never very sporty or outdoorsy. It was easier for me to look after my skin then. Staying indoors is generally better for your skin, because of the reduced UV and sun exposure.
But then, I got a dog and all hell pretty much broke loose LOL!
Having a dog comes with many responsibilities, and one of them is daily walks. That meant I was being moved out of my comfort zone, and out into the sun.
Initially, I wasn’t paying much attention to my skin. I’d rush through my morning skincare routine, slap on any ol’ sunscreen, and head out the door with puppers.
But as time went by, I noticed my skin was becoming more dry, dull and my pigmentation had gotten worse. I knew I had to do something.
Sun and UV exposure can damage skin
The science is clear on this point. Prolonged exposure to the sun and UV rays can damage skin and cause skin to age more quickly. This manifests not only in lines and wrinkles, but also in skin that is more dry and dehydrated, dull and with more uneven skintone.
For those of us who live in the tropics, there isn’t much we can do to escape the sun. What we can do however, is to reduce our exposure, and failing that, as in my case, prep your skin both before and after sun exposure, to minimize sun damage.
Truth to tell, you can never recover 100% as long as you continue with sun exposure. You will end up getting a tan. That is caused by UV rays and it’s a defense mechanism of your skin to produce melanin to reduce UV penetration into your skin cells.
What you can try to do is to minimize its effects. These are some of the things I do to protect and repair my skin after prolonged sun exposure.
Change my sunscreen to a mineral sunscreen
When I first noticed that my skin was getting more tanned, and my pigmentation spots were getting more prominent, I took stock of my skincare and sunscreen.
I was using the Allie UV Perfect gel sunscreen, which is by all accounts, a good sunscreen. But it had a tendency to sting my eyes when sweat mixes and gets into my eyes. Also, I felt that it was not doing enough for my skin.
I swapped out to the Avene Very High Protection Mineral Cream SPF50 which is a fully mineral based sunscreen to test a theory. I used it in generous amounts each time before I went out on my walks, and my experiment paid off!
In 2 weeks, I noticed that my skin was looking a little better. My pigmentation spots were not increasing in number nor darkness.
I reasoned that this sunscreen was offering me better protection from the sun because of the physical uv blockers. While Allie was comfortable and a good sunscreen for me, the mix of physical and chemical blockers might not be doing enough to protect my skin.
I now use 2 sunscreens for different reasons. Before I go outdoors, I use the Avene Very High Protection Mineral Cream. After I get back and have my shower and stay back indoors, I use the Allie Perfect UV Gel sunscreen. Perfect combination for me!
Active use of Vitamin C serums
Now that I had blocked the UV rays from further damaging my skin, I had to repair my skin.
I went back to using Vitamin C serums. It is recommended to apply Vitamin C serums in the morning, as it also helps to boost the efficacy of your sunscreen, while protecting your skin from oxidative and environmental stress. Vitamin C is a good ingredient to have in your skincare arsenal.
I’d apply a Vitamin C serum as part of my first morning skincare routine, before I go out, to protect my skin. When I return, my second morning routine involves applying the Vitamin C serum again, this time to protect and repair my skin. If you are using Alpha-Arbutin serums, I’d use them in the second morning routine, as that’s where I use them. I figure I’m using it to repair, so it’s better I use it once I’m out of the sun.
It took almost a month, but I’m starting to now see results. My skin looks far more even toned, brighter and the pigmentation spots are lighter.
Boosting skin hydration to prevent dehydration
When you’re out in the sun and sweating, your body and skin will lose moisture and hydration. I figured that I needed to boost my skin’s hydration levels, so it didn’t dry out so much.
There are 2 methods I employ – the moisture sandwich technique, and using a hydration serum that is rich in hyaluronic acid.
With the moisture sandwich, I ensure that my skincare is sandwiched with moisture, which my skin can grab and hold on to. In between, I apply a layer of hydration serum rich in hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic Acid helps hold and retain water, and the mists feed it with water, so my skin is kept plumped.
I noticed improvements almost overnight! My skin looked less dull and was more hydrated, so it looked more plumped and more healthy. Trust me, this difference is something you will notice very quickly, especially if your skin is prone to dryness and dehydration.
Repair with glycolic acid and retinol serums and repair masks
I stopped slacking back on my night-time skincare routine, and went back to using retinol serums, and products with glycolic acid or AHAs. This helps to encourage skin cell turnover and renewal, resulting in brighter, more healthy skin.
I also started doing a repair mask every other day. I like using the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask for this purpose. It is soothing to skin that has been exposed to the sun, it repairs, and it boosts moisture. It is such a great mask, I really don’t see me ever NOT using it! 😀
These were little tweaks I made in my skincare routine, to address my problem. I basically did a combination of protect and repair, to address my concerns.
I’m happy to report that it took me about 3 weeks to notice visible results. My skin is in much better condition – less dry, less dehydrated, and less dull. My pigmentation spots are still there, and they will always be there (I’ve come to terms with them 🙂 ) but they’ve noticeably lightened.
My skin just looks better and healthier, and brighter, and all it took was just a little thinking and strategizing of how I make my skincare work for me 😀
Have you experienced anything similar with your skin? How did you address your problem?
Oh I also noticed that my neck and back of my neck was getting more tanned than the rest of me. Silly me had forgotten to my sunscreen on those parts! Now, I’m more diligent, and apply sunscreen on every exposed part before heading out the door. Vanity, thy name is woman LOL! 😀