Protect and prevent your skin from sun damage with these skincare treatments. Photo: Alamy

We all know that too much sun exposure ages us.

But chances are, unless you spent the summer bundled under a caftan, straw hat and gloves, you more than likely got your share of UV rays - precursors to the brown spots, uneven pigmentation and premature wrinkles that are the telltale signs of sun damaged skin.

The good news? If you start treatment today, you can effectively rewind the clock on your recent skin sins.

"It's much easier to refinish a piece of furniture when it is slightly damaged, as opposed to seriously damaged. So, begin your treatment plan immediately," advises Los Angeles Dermatologist Ava Shamban.

There are two different types of sun exposure-induced damage -- the dull skin and brown spots you see immediately following, and the wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, and skin cancers that can surface years down the road. "At the cellular level, the lag time between sun exposure and damage is about two hours, but the deeper visible effects may take years to show up -- like with high cholesterol and heart disease," Dr. Shamban tells StyleList.

New York dermatologist Neal Schultz recommends five steps to target both levels of sun damage. "Gently exfoliate, bleach out the browns, use antioxidants nightly, moisturize liberally and often, and use sunscreen daily, all year," he told StyleList.

Exfoliating will clear away the dull, clogging and matted dead cells that were killed by the sun's rays. Look for a gentle glycolic product with about an eight percent concentration, which is touted to spur your own cells to create collagen -- the structural protein that can add volume and plumpness to skin.

"Chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid give much more consistent results than physical exfoliants like scrubs or at-home devices," advises Dr. Schultz.



If you're experiencing brown spots or blotches, use a topical bleaching product at bedtime to help fade away the pigmentation. Dr. Schultz recommends products containing any one of these ingredients for best results: hydroquinone, kojic acid, Actiwhite, Achromaxyl, Whitonyl or Dermostatyl.

Antioxidants can help treat the more dangerous, longer-term effects that can lurk inside of your skin cells for years. While antioxidants come in a wide range of exotic fruits and herbal extracts, vitamin C continues to test the most effective for sun damage. But make sure you're using a stable form of the power vitamin for potent results, which you'll see referred to on ingredient labels as tetrahexadycyl ascorbate or methylsilanol ascorbate.

And above all, wear SPF 15 to 30 sunscreen daily and don't forget to moisturize first.

"Remember what the sun did to your wet bathing suit? It didn't leave your skin any wetter!" says Dr. Schultz.

Click through the gallery above for the new products that help repair sun-damaged skin, and click the following link for a roundup of the best new sunscreens to prevent future damage.