Post-Summer Skin and Hair Rehab

As fall sets in, you notice that your skin and hair have gone from sun-kissed to sun-stressed. “When a patient comes to me in September, the most common complaints are brown spots, broken capillaries and fine lines,” says Rebecca Fitzgerald, M.D., a Los Angeles dermatologist. And while a season of sun, sea and chlorine has left your skin dehydrated and blotchy, your hair is likely to look fried and lifeless. “Hair needs extra TLC at the end of summer,” says Los Angeles hairstylist Rebecca DuMoulin, “especially if it’s color treated.”

Here are the top fixes for summer’s beauty blunders; some you can do on your own and others with a little help from the pros.

How to Get Your Glow Back
Your dermatologist can help erase sun damage by literally shining a light on the problem. Intense pulsed light treatments (also known as IPL, Fotofacial or Photofacial) deliver high-intensity bursts of light to areas of pigment that don’t match your regular skin tone, such as red, tan and brown spots as well as tiny broken capillaries. The melanin in those areas absorbs the light, and over the next few days, the spots darken and then flake off, replaced by new even-toned skin tissue. (IPL, however, may be less effective on skin that already contains a lot of pigment, so women with darker skin tones should discuss with their dermatologist whether the treatment is right for them.)

Another option your doctor may suggest is a light chemical peel that uses salicylic or glycolic acid to exfoliate the top layers of skin, helping to slough away discoloration, fine wrinkles and coarse texture. Your doctor may also write a prescription for a topical retinoid -- a vitamin A derivative -- that smoothes the skin and evens out discoloration by speeding cell turnover. “The only caveat with retinoids is that the gain is long haul and not overnight. Give them a few months,” advises Fitzgerald.

Skin Fixes From the Drugstore

Over-the-counter retinoids are lower in strength than their prescription sisters, but still highly effective. Look for the word “retinol” on the product’s label. And while nonprescription retinoids are less likely than prescription formulas to irritate your skin, they can still cause dryness, so start by using your new cream every other night.

Other great drugstore ingredients to look for are AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids, commonly listed as glycolic or salicylic on the ingredients list). Like the chemical peels you’d receive in a doctor’s office, these products work to exfoliate the top damaged layers of skin.

Moisture and Shine Repair for Hair

“End-of-summer hair looks dry because the cuticle on the hair shaft isn’t lying flat, causing strands to lose moisture and gloss,” says DuMoulin. A trim at a salon is the only way to get rid of split or ragged ends, but there are also deep-conditioning treatments available that help the scalp and flood your hair with moisturizers. These deep-conditioning treatments smooth the scale-like cells of the cuticle, instantly boosting shine. At home, switch to moisturizing conditioners and fake shine with a silicone spray. Silicone gives hair an instant gloss and tames flyaways while you are babying your hair back from summer damage.

Reversing Hair’s Brassiness and Blahs

After months of sun exposure, hair that has been colored often looks brassy and dull. “Women who color their hair dark brown or red suffer the most because these colors really fade in the sun,” says DuMoulin. A toner can help add some extra depth to your hue. While blondes don’t suffer from fading in the summer, too much sun “and their hair looks one-dimensional,” says DuMoulin. One solution is to add some lowlights to give your light tresses more depth.