How to Repair Sun Damaged Skin

Spending time in the sun is a big part of summer fun, but those hours at the beach can show up on your face as dry skin, fine lines, sun spots, and wrinkles. UV light from the sun breaks down collagen and elastin, the skin’s building blocks that work to keep your skin looking and feeling smooth. Degrade those two structural components and you’re guaranteed to see fine lines faster than you’d like.

Boost your moisture levels with hyaluronic acid.

Skin experts say the best way to reverse the dryness and damage from sun exposure is to look for super-moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid often produces instant visible results because it holds a thousand times its weight in water. When looking for hyaluronic acid in skincare, make sure that it is at (or near) the top of the list of product ingredients.

Exfoliators improve the look of fine lines and sun spots.

Your skin protects itself from sunlight by producing melanin, the pigment that produces sun spots and uneven skin tone. Experts recommend exfoliators with resurfacing ingredients such as glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, or a retinoid to remove the top layer of damaged skin cells that cling to the surface of your skin. Chemical exfoliators can dramatically improve the look of pigment and textural issues as well as fine lines, but this should be done sparingly. You can also counter pigment issues with daily applications of treatments containing the antioxidant vitamin C. Vitamin C reduces the production of pigment and can make your skin look brighter and smoother.

Fortify the skin’s barrier against sun damage.

Look for treatments that can help fortify your skin’s barrier function against sun damage. These include products with natural enzymes such as bromelain paired with soothing amino acids and dimethicone. Products with potential collagen and elastin boosters like peptides may help boost new collagen formation.

Shop the drugstore for moisturizers.

What can you do to repair the sun’s damage to your skin? Serious hydrators are a good place to start, and you don’t have to drain your bank account to find them.

Some of the top-performing moisturizers recommended by dermatologists and tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab can be found at drugstores. Here are six creams that Good Housekeeping says are the best that drugstores have to offer.

Best Overall Drugstore Moisturizer:

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer, ($25, click here)

This is the gold standard in facial moisturizers. The formula contains niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and peptides. In Good Housekeeping Beauty Lab hydration tests, this moisturizer boosted skin’s hydration by 68% within three hours after application.

Best Drugstore Moisturizer for the Body:

Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Body Lotion, ($8.48, click here)

This glycerin-based vaseline formula increased moisture by 60%, according to the Good Housekeeping Beauty Lab tests. Testers reported that it soaked in fast and was intensely moisturizing.

Best Value Drugstore Moisturizer:

Garnier Skin Active Clearly Brighter Brightening & Smoothing SPF 15 Daily Moisturizer, ($14, click here)

This bargain Garnier day lotion boosts skin’s radiance and evens skin tone as it hydrates with antioxidant vitamin C and a gently exfoliating lipohydroxy acid.

Best Drugstore Moisturizer for Discoloration:

L’oreal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal Anti-Aging Day Cream SPF 30, ($15.79, click here)

L’Oréal topped Good Housekeeping’s assessments for reducing UV spots, evening tone and moisturizing. The vitamin C and glycolic acid cream increased skin’s moisture levels by 28% and reduced hyper-pigmentation by 11% in just four weeks.

Best Drugstore Moisturizer with SPF:

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer SPF 30, ($24.90, click here)

This moisturizer doesn’t sacrifice any hydrating benefits with the addition of sunscreen. Skin-softening ingredients such as glycerin raised skin moisture levels by 31% more than any facial SPF 30 previously evaluated in Good Housekeeping Beauty Lab testing.

Best Drugstore Moisturizer for Oily Skin:

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel, ($24.98, click here)

The gel texture of this water-like moisturizer is perfect for skin prone to greasy shine. This moisture-loving formula is made with hydrating hyaluronic acid and is oil-free and non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores.


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