Hollywood Skin Experts Advise How to Repair Sun Damage After Summer Break

Courtesy of Royal Fern; Flora; Macrene Actives
Royal Fern; Flora; Macrene Actives

Powerful new lasers, light-activated cosmetic creams and the latest rejuvenating anti-aging powerhouses, including fern plant extracts and Manuka honey, are some fresh ways to rejuvenate lackluster skin.

Even for those not frolicking on the sun-drenched shores of St. Tropez and Lake Como this summer, chances are that UV rays have left Angelenos with some unsavory souvenirs of summer. Venturing out in head-to-toe protective clothing or smothering skin in thick, pasty zinc oxide paste is an unlikely fix, but new groundbreaking and effective solutions to help rejuvenate sun damaged skin are aplenty. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, some leading anti-aging authorities reveal how to bring skin back from the brink. 

“Depending on the level of UV exposure, correcting sun damage often requires a two-prong approach of as little as one in-office treatment, coupled with an ongoing regime of daily at-home maintenance,” says dermatologic surgeon and scientist Dr. Macrene Alexiades, who counts writer-director Chris McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible), Sienna Miller and Oscar-winning director-producer Chai Vasarhelyi (Free Solo) as clients.

Alexiades sees impressive results with the Pico Second laser featuring Enlighten technology, but advises to wait one month after the last sun exposure to receive the treatment. “The Enlighten technology allows me to effectively target and eliminate brown spots in one session,” she says. Expect to pay $1,000 for the 15-minute treatment, with no pain or downtime other than varying redness. Brown spots will darken at first and then slough off over the course of four to seven days. 

Alexiades, who trademarked the term "Derm-Scientist," holds not one but three degrees from Harvard University and offers all of the most advanced rejuvenation therapies at her New York-based practice. She is a vigilant proponent of an effective at-home regimen and believes consistent usage of scientifically backed, heavily researched products are move valuable than in-office treatments. “Regular, twice daily use of potent topical cosmeceuticals, beginning in your 30s, could make the need for cosmetic procedures obsolete," asserts Alexiades. Perhaps it’s prime time for long, leisurely soaks in a bathtub filled with heaping amounts of anti-aging power potions.

Her Macrene Actives High Performance Neck and Décolletage Treatment, part of the skin care collection that she researched for 16 years, has a vegan formula free of parabens, phthalates, sulfate, glycol, silicone and fragrance with 50 organic plant-derived actives, including a host of DNA repair ingredients that target wrinkles and brown spots. Alexiades claims that the ingredients in her products "are proven to undo the damage to DNA caused by UV exposure and pollutants, which is the core cause of skin aging.”

Another laser making waves is the M22 by Lumenis, and it’s the sun damage-repairing “platform” of choice for industry go-to Dr. Dale Prokupek, founder of Aesthetic Body Solutions in Beverly Hills. “The M22 is one of the most powerful IPL photo-rejuvenation technologies for eliminating sun damage,” says the board-certified internist and aesthetics MD. “It’s incredibly safe, effective, involves zero downtime and can address everything from brown spots, dilated blood vessels around the nose and rosacea to acne, blotchiness and scarring.”

During the 30-minute, $200 treatment (a $500 package of three may be recommended, depending on skin condition), a handheld device with a cooling tip is held on portions of skin, including the most visible UV-damaged parts of the body: face, chest, hands and arms. Expect light, tolerable discomfort and some redness, followed by a splotchy darkening of the sun-damaged areas, which eventually sloughs off “like coffee bean grinds” over seven days. For maintenance and prevention, one or two treatments are suggested annually.

For those who are laser-shy, non-invasive light-absorbing cosmetic cream treatments such as Allumera ($550 with a series of three suggested every four weeks), activated by an LED light or V-beam laser, also effectively treat UV-damaged cells and fine lines. “What I love about Allumera is that it yields little to no downtime, generates new collagen growth, brightens the skin, and improves sun damage. ... Patients will see the crepey-ness and quality of their skin, particularly around the eyes, improved," claims family nurse practitioner Jennifer Hollander of Aura Healing Spa, the Beverly Hills holistic medical center she oversees alongside cosmetic surgeon Dr. Ben Talei (who is said to be responsible for the more realistic look of Kylie Jenner’s lips).

A double-whammy punch of a “photo peel” (an IPL laser immediately followed by a peel) is the sun-damage protocol of choice for Lisa Goodman, physician’s assistant and founder of GoodSkin, with locations in Brentwood and New York. Goodman, who keeps the names of her industry clientele closely guarded, takes a personalized approach to skin rejuvenation. “We base everything on each individual’s anatomy,” she says. The team starts by touching and feeling every patient’s face, focusing on five areas: bone, muscle, fat, skin and fascia to see how the patient is aging. 

GoodSkin incorporates Vector Imaging, a cutting-edge 3D imaging system that allows patients to experience a deep dive into sun damage and aging. “The images and software show clients the exact results they will receive before any procedure takes place, allowing them to explore possible outcomes and understand any limitations," says Goodman, who starts with an IPL laser at “lower settings not meant to actually treat the discoloration but rather to simply activate the melanin (pigment) cells.” (Cells with melanin absorb the light and become more active, she explains.) The 30-minute, $1,000 treatment also includes a chemical Vi Peel to target pigmented areas more deeply and effectively, with results visible within a week, after three to seven days of peeling.

Of course, there are non-invasive, at-home methods to address dry, sun-damaged skin that don’t involve a visit to a medical clinic. Experts suggest skincare products featuring technologically-advanced ingredients that come straight from nature and have proven to be quite effective. Cynthia Franco — whose results-oriented holistic facials and bodywork (including her signature Head to Toe Glow) help keep the skin of Salma Hayek, Amber Heard, Maude Apatow and Lucy Boynton smooth and luminous — reports a “visible change” after using Royal Fern products on her clients, centered around fern plant extract that is said to be resistant to UV light to help protect skin from sun and pollution. 

On the eco-friendly DIY beauty front, the highly sustainable and unpasteurized New Zealand Manuka honey from Flora (the industry-loved natural health company that counts James Cameron and Emma Stone as fans) is said to be effective when mixed with Acerola powder and/or Spirulina to create an ultra-pure, restorative mask. “There are some indications that compounds in the Manuka may aid in tissue regeneration,” says registered holistic nutritionist Dana Remedios. Although more studies are needed, Manuka is known to be antibacterial and, when used topically, it soothes skin and acts as a natural humectant. Now that’s something to buzz about.