I’m sure we’ve all experienced regret after laying out in the sun for too long and are now wondering if the magic power of retinol can reverse the damage we’ve encountered... BUT, let’s get a few things straight first:
- laying out in the sun for hours to get a tan USED to be a very popular practice however, we’re now in 2022, and bestie let me tell you… tanning is not it!
- We repeat, tanning is not it
Did you know that every 30 minutes someone is diagnosed with melanoma in Australia? And 95% of melanomas are caused by overexposure to UV radiation from the sun. It's estimated that over 17,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year, according to the Melanoma Institute of Australia.
While a tan is often associated with the sign of a ‘healthy glow’ it's actually quite the opposite. Even the slightest colour change in your skin's natural colour is doing damage to it. The colour change is actually your skin cells crying out in pain. I can imagine most of us have the childhood memory of our parents applying copious amounts of sunscreen all over our bodies before heading to the beach and forcing us to wear that rash vest we all hated. As much as we’d all hate to admit it… this was actually a blessing in disguise. Just one blistering sunburn as a toddler or adolescent makes us more than double the chances likely to develop melanoma as an adult.
Luckily, it seems that we have come a long way from spending hours laying on the beach trying to cook our skin. We’ve definitely seen some progress with the promotion of daily SPF application, staying in shaded areas, and wearing protective clothing. While I'm sure that you've heard of the old ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ slogan directing us to Slip on a shirt, Slop on some sunscreen, and Slap on a hat, what you might not be familiar with is the updated version which includes the phrases ‘Seek & Slide’. This means Seek some shade and Slide on a pair of sunnies! So babe, next time you’re in the sun don't forget to ‘Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek & Slide’.
Managing a sunburn
I know we all like to preach that we are all perfect with our suncare in 2022, and trust us, we wish this was the case, however, we know in reality it’s easy to slip up. You forget to reapply, you fall asleep in the sun, your partner missed a spot on your back etc. etc. etc.
Although it is less than ideal to find yourself with a sunburn, in the very rare circumstance that you do 😉 this is what we recommend you do.
Cool the area down
Act fast! Once you’ve realised you’ve been hit with a sunburn, try to cool the area down. Using ice packs or cool water should do the trick! If using ice, be sure to not apply it directly to the skin, and instead cover the ice with a wet towel.
Keeping the area hydrated will provide the skin with the best environment for recovery. Applying moisturiser to damp skin is even better as this will help to lock in additional moisture.
Taking ibuprofen or a similar anti-inflammatory will help to manage pain or sometimes even swelling if the burn is quite severe.
Increase your water intake
While a burn is healing, water is drawn from other areas of the body which can result in a decrease in hydration levels. It’s a good idea to up your usual water intake to counteract this.
Signs of sun damage
Over time sunburn can lead to damaged skin. What are the telltale signs that your skin has suffered sun damage? Well, signs of skin damage from sun exposure include:
- Loose skin
- Fine lines
If you’re thinking a lot of these signs sound like ageing, you’d be right. Exposure to the sun is actually a major contributing factor to premature ageing of the skin. So, if the risk of cancer doesn't make you want to hide away and apply your SPF… maybe the looming fact of wrinkles will (fingers crossed).
Does retinol help with sun damage?
The question everyone wants answered…
While retinol can’t reverse the effect the sun has had below the surface of your skin, it can help reduce the visible signs of sun damage to the skin. Retinol’s main job is to increase skin cell turnover. This means that fresh, undamaged, layers of skin are quicker produced. In turn, this can help the skin to look and feel smoother, reduce the appearance of pigmentation, fade dark spots, as well as minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Using retinol for sun-damaged skin
I’m sure after reading the above you are keen to whack on the retinol and forget any of this ever happened, but slow down bestie, it is important to tick off a few things prior to diving in head first.
Make sure your sunburn is healed before use
This one is important! Retinol can be an irritant, and with sunburn already resulting in more sensitive and irritated skin, the last thing you want to do is add to this. I would suggest waiting at least a week after the sunburn has fully healed before you start applying retinol to the area.
Test your skin's tolerance
As mentioned before, retinol is an ingredient that can cause irritation to your skin and damage your skin barrier. When introducing retinol it's important to start slow, begin by applying it twice a week, then build up from there depending on your skin's reaction. Everyone’s tolerance is a little different, so it is important that you start slow and build up gradually from there!
To learn more about how retinol affects your skin barrier and how to avoid it, read here.
Apply SPF every day
When using retinol it’s important to keep in mind that the ingredient can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Seeing as sun damage is the reason we’re here in the first place, it would be a shame to set your skin back even further with yet another hit from the sun. Applying a daily SPF50+ and reapplying throughout the day, is crucial to maintaining the health of your skin and preventing future sun damage. Our skin shady SPF50+ will provide you with top-notch protection. It's white cast-free, breakout friendly, non-greasy, AND super lightweight.
Retinol for sun-damaged skin
I’d love to recommend you a tbh retinol however, this is one product we don't have. I have compiled some of the best options below:
1. Dr Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic and Retinol Anti-Ageing Moisturiser
This is a great option for sun-damaged skin- it includes ferulic acid which helps to neutralise free radical damage to cells. Its thick hydrating texture creates the perfect environment for repair.
2. Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum
The best match for oily skin- this serum uses a three part retinol technology which targets texture, acne and excess oil production.
3. La Roche-Posay Retinol 0.3% + Vitamin B3 Serum
The perfect option for sensitive skin- with the low rate of retinol and combination of niacinamide it’s gentle enough for those with sensitive skin, wanting to start using retinol.
4. CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum
For acne prone skin- This new ceraVe retinol uses encapsulated retinol which is far gentler on the skin barrier, which is necessary for those suffering with breakouts as it wont cause further irritation.
So, you now know the answer to the long-awaited question, does retinol help with sun damage? Yes bestie, it sure does! However, when it comes to sun damage, prevention is always key! Consistently wearing SPF each day and following other steps in the ‘Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide’ mantra is the best way to protect yourself from potential damage the sun can bring.