Despite a summer of stay at home orders or slathering yourself in sunscreen, you may still have managed to secure yourself some sun-induced wrinkling and brown spots.
How to start?
At the end of summer we all have a build up of oil, sunscreen and new brown spots on our skin. To undo this we need to make sure we have an effective daily skin care regime where the morning is about prevention and protection and the evening is about correction.
In the morning, everyone with every skin type should apply an antioxidant serum (most commonly with Vitamin C) to protect the skin from free radicals created by pollution and the sun. Topical Vitamin C will also lighten brown spots. This should be followed with a skin supportive moisturizer such as our Face lotion and Face Cream, which can also be used on eyelid and neck skin. The last step is zinc-based sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Even though the days are getting shorter, you still need your SPF!
At night you need to wash your face with something gentle and effective, such as our RESTORE Face Wash. Get the grime of the day off….ALWAYS! Next step is your treatment, such as with an AHA or the perennial favorite vitamin A (ex. tretinoin or retinol), which will promote cell turnover, unclog those pores and lighten sun spots. Always follow the treatment step with a good moisturizer (RESTORE Face Cream) to hydrate and protect your skin as you sleep.
When starting a vitamin A product the key is to start low and slow! If you use too much you will overstimulate skin turnover leading to dry skin, peeling, scaling, flaking, a burning sensation, and erythema (redness.) No one wants that! You can also have increased photosensitivity when first used due to thinning of the stratum corneum, which is the top layer of dead skin. This is another reason why you need to wear sunscreen every day and why you don’t need to take your retinol with you on a sunny vacation….just your zinc-based sunscreen!
One thing to note here is that if you have thin or dry skin you will absorb more of any given product than you would if you had thick or oily skin. I have most of my female patients begin with 0.25% retinol and men start with 0.5% retinol. Also, don’t forget that this is a treatment. You do not need very much, and it is ok if not all your skin in each area gets treated with each application! It is better to start with too little than too much! It can take 72 hours to see the irritation, so I recommend for the first two weeks just apply twice a week and then build from there if you are tolerating it well. Once you can use the product every night without irritation you can consider increasing the percentage of your treatment. In as little as 4 weeks your skin will appear brighter, smoother, and less pigmented.
What if my skin is irritated?
If you notice your skin is dry, peeling, scaling, flaking, burning or red STOP all active products like retinols, AHs and any serums. Only use a gentle cleanser, followed by a healing moisturizer and zinc-based sunscreen (aka the RESTORE reset.) Once your skin returns to normal, start again with less amount of the active product and use it less often. Also avoid applying your retinol right after a hot shower or when your face is still hot from exercise as that will increase absorption and therefore increase your risk of irritation.
Are you one of those people who doesn’t wash your face before bed (like my husband)? Although this is not what I would call ‘perfect form’, you can still benefit from putting on your retinol! Not sure if a retinol is for you? Just consider the fact that I don’t know a single dermatologist who doesn’t use a retinol on their skin! The benefits are just too good to pass up.
If you are looking for more than ‘at home’ treatments, fall is a very popular time to head to your dermatologist office. Once school starts, lasering goes into full effect at my dermatology practice in Seattle (Modern Dermatology). There is nothing better at cleaning up the summer fun on the face, neck and chest. Laser treatments are so popular that my patients typically book them a year out to ensure they can be treated before the holidays.
Clear and Brilliant by Solta
A great laser for beginners or for maintenance to treat brown and texture with minimal down time. It’s especially effective and safe for diffuse brown like melasma. It requires 30 minutes of numbing prior to the treatment and after that you can expect a day of redness and a week of dryness and bronzing of the skin. Personally, I try to have two of these done a year, one in October and one in March.
Intense Pulsed Light
This is the treatment of choice for redness including broken blood vessels and rosacea. It is also effective at treating brown spots such as sun spots and freckles. I do not recommend it for diffuse brown like melasma. Post-treatment, expect a few days of swelling, redness and a coffee ground like peeling of brown spots as they slough off. Super exciting!
For those wanting significant improvement of skin including brown spots, texture, pore size, laxity and wrinkles, I use fractionation resurfacing. This requires more downtime but also offers longer lasting results. These treatments require 1 hour of topical numbing and we even offer laughing gas (nitrous gas) to help patients through it. There are 7 days of significant recovery and for the first four days patients are red, crusty and very swollen.
All these treatments require skin care products to optimize healing and to prevent unwanted reactions that can negatively impact the results. In fact, we conducted a blinded randomized control study using RESTORE Healing Balm and it drastically outperformed Aquaphor, which has long been the ‘go-to’ for post laser care. This is why we only use Doctor Rogers RESTORE® skin care products on healing skin at Modern Dermatology.
All post care instructions are available at doctorrogers.com.
Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Meet the author: Board-certified and practicing dermatologist, Dr. Heather D. Rogers, MD, is the founder of Doctor Rogers Skin Care and Modern Dermatology in Seattle, Washington. She studied at Stanford, University of Washington School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. She lectures nationally, is well published, and an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology. Highly respected among the skin care community, Dr. Rogers has been annually named “Top 1% of Most Honored Doctors in the US” by Castle Connolly.