In our new column, celebrity dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi helps us make sense of our skin, tackling all the issues lying between us and complexion perfection. This week, Dr. Obagi helps us get fresh-faced for fall.

Clear those summer spots with these pro tips. Photo: Getty Images

As summer draws to a close, a season of skin sins -- skimping on SPF, all-day sun-sessions and too many cocktails -- are written all over your face. Dry patches, freckles, dullness and under-eye circles are all your skin's way of saying "help me!"

Months of mistreatment put skin in freak-out mode and may have you wishing for a do-over. While I can't turn back the clock, I can help reverse a summer's worth of skin damage and calm down your complexion with my top five tips for fall rejuvenation.

Start with a clean slate. After months of sun exposure, dead skin cells have accumulated on the surface of your skin. Not to worry, your former glow is just below the surface waiting to be revealed. Look for an exfoliant packed with tiny microbeads to slough off the top layer of dull skin without irritation. You'll be left with smoother, more even-looking skin -- a flashback to your healthy complexion.

Lighten up! Too much sun exposure can cause blotchiness, brown to gray discoloration and freckles galore. To treat all of that hyper pigmentation, it's best to wear a sunscreen and use a topical lotion or gel with ingredients that inhibit melanin (like Retin A, or other types of retinoids). Hydroquinone is the best topical skin lightening ingredient-but make sure that you have a concentration of 4%. You can get it from a doctor; it takes about 6-18 weeks to successfully treat hyper pigmentation. Need something even more aggressive? Ask your dermatologist about a TCA chemical peel. It's much more invasive than a lightweight peel, but also much more effective. Not ready for a medical treatment? Can't spare the downtime? Consider my newest creation, ZO Skin Health Radical Night Repair Plus -- which includes a high concentration of skin-lightening retinol. And did I mention... don't forget the sunscreen!

Find the right sunscreen. Remember that line from the "Guide to Life" for graduates? This is it: wear sunscreen. They didn't give advice on how to find the right one, though, and it's not always easy. Chemical sunscreen agents (like avobenzone, benzophenones, etc.) are absorbed by the skin, and can cause irritation. Physical sunscreen agents (like titanium oxide and zinc oxide) block harmful UV rays-so they're preferred by most skincare professionals. Stick with an SPF 30 or 35. Higher SPFs give you a false sense of security. There is no such thing as an all-day sunscreen. Do you need one in the fall? Absolutely! Sun damage is a risk year round-just because summer is over doesn't mean you're safe.

Zo Skin Health Exfoliating Polish will help clear away dull, summer-damaged skin (left). Dr. Zein Obagi (right). Courtesy Photo.


Reconsider your diet. Sangria, burgers and mocha lattes are all high in carbohydrates, which cause inflammation. An abundance of free radicals will damage your DNA and break down your collagen fibers. Try to reduce your consumption of carbs by at least 50%, for younger-looking, healthy skin.

Sleep in. Too many late nights and summer cocktails leave fragile under-eye skin dehydrated, dark, puffy and prone to wrinkles. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night for brighter under-eyes and improved overall energy for fall. Drink to skin health. For dull, dehydrated skin, there's no miracle elixir or magic juice that works like plain water. Keep a bottle handy at all times to prevent dry, blah skin and flush out summer toxins.

Avoid the (doctor's) office. Peels, laser treatments, Botox and fillers may be an option, but they shouldn't be your first choice. What you do every day and how you treat your skin every night can delay medical procedures until they're truly needed.

To ask the good doctor a question or topic to tackle in a future column, leave a comment below. And check out his website, ZoSkinHealth.com for more skincare information.