How To Treat Sun-Damaged Skin Back to Health

Whether you’re a sun seeker or shade hugger, summer months mean making changes to the way we prep our skin before we head outside. Though it might be hard to believe, in the UK there’s the potential for sun damage to your skin anywhere from mid-March to mid-October. If you’re worried you’ve caught some rays in a bad way and want to know how to repair sun-damaged skin, we have some soothing solutions.

The impact of sun on the skin

Overexposure to the sun can cause serious, long-lasting issues. These issues can range from aesthetic changes, such as wrinkles and broken capillaries, to painful burns and, in the most severe cases, skin cancer.

Understanding sun damage

Although the sun is an important source of vitamin D, it is also the source of ultraviolet (UV) rays. These rays are what cause damage to your skin - whether it stops at the skin’s surface, the epidermis, or reaches the dermis, depends on the amount of exposure. We wear sunscreen to protect our skin from UV rays - it does this by absorbing them, and slowing the rate at which they penetrate the skin. Note; it slows them down, but does not stop UV rays completely - which is why regular reapplication is so important.

How UV rays affect the skin

UV rays are waves of radiation from the sun that can cause damage to the DNA in your skin cells. Once this damage has been done it cannot be reversed - but you can address and treat the symptoms. There are two main types of UV rays:

  • UVA - these rays are responsible for tans, burns, wrinkles and blisters, and can lead to skin cancer.
  • UBA - these rays only impact the outermost layers of your skin, but can still cause skin cancer.

Common signs of sun damage

Some of the common symptoms of sun damage include:

  • Blackheads, due to the loss of elasticity in the skin causing pores to become wider.
  • Wrinkles, also caused by loss of elasticity in the skin.
  • Sun spots and hyperpigmentation.
  • Thickened skin.
  • Suntans and sunburn


Hereditarily inherited freckles do not count as sun damage, but some people can develop freckles after spending time in the sun - these freckles count as hyperpigmentation.

Long-term effects of untreated sun damage

Too much time in the sun can cause you to age prematurely, and develop wrinkles that sun protection would have prevented. It can also cause patches of actinic keratoses to develop on your skin - dry, scaly areas of the skin that may be itchy and even bleed. These patches can sometimes develop into skin cancer, but often go away on their own.

As mentioned, the most dangerous consequence of sun damage is skin cancer. It’s estimated that in the UK, 9 in 10 cases of melanoma skin cancer could have been prevented by taking proper precautions when in the sun. This sad statistic is a testament to the importance of preventing sun damage wherever possible.

Immediate Care for Sun-Damaged Skin

If you’ve spent time in the sun recently and feel like you might have picked up some damage, here are some things you can do to soothe your skin.

Cooling the skin

Burnt skin will continue to feel hot and painful even when you’ve come in from the sun; it’s important to cool it to try and alleviate your discomfort. Cold compresses and cool showers and baths can help to relieve the pain associated with skin damage.

Hydration and soothing

Sun-damaged skin often feels dry and taut. Using cooling lotions such as those containing aloe vera and calamine can help to reduce the irritation. You can even refrigerate these lotions before applying them to make the relief extra cool. Drinking water is also hugely important - even more so than everyday hydration.

The importance of avoiding further exposure

If you’ve got sunburn it’s crucial to avoid further sun exposure. Even with incorporating all of the suggestions above and a high SPF sunscreen, further time in the sun will make your symptoms feel even more painful.

Long-term healing

When looking at how to fix sun damaged skin it’s important to think of the long term. As previously mentioned, UV damage to your skin cells cannot be reversed, but side-effects such as wrinkles, fine lines and hyperpigmentation can be managed.

Topical treatments

Here are the topical solutions that can help to reduce the appearance of sun damage:

  • Retinols - to improve skin texture and increase skin cell production, which helps to fill out fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Antioxidants - either applied in skincare products or taken in through your diet, to protect your skin from oxidative damage and reducing inflammation.
  • Hyaluronic acids - to boost your skin’s moisture levels and keep it supple and flexible.
  • Daily SPF - applying sun care year-round (yes, even in winter) is a guaranteed way to slow the signs of ageing and protect your skin from future damage.

Professional treatment

If you’re wondering how to repair sun damaged skin and are considering some professional cosmetic help, here are the treatments we would recommend:

  • Microdermabrasion - to remove dead skin cells and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Chemical peels - to remove layers of dead skin and stimulate fresh new skin growth.
  • Laser therapy - to tighten loose, wrinkled skin and encourage collagen production to restore elasticity.

Natural remedies and DIY treatment

If you’re looking for a more natural remedy, there are probably things in your kitchen cupboards right now that can help to soothe the effects of sun damage.

Baking soda, when mixed with bath water or applied as a paste can help to relieve the itchiness and irritation that comes with sunburn. Similarly, coconut oil gently rubbed into the skin will help to restore moisturiser and soothe inflammation. Soaking oats in a lukewarm bath to make an oat bath is another popular home remedy, also used by people who suffer from eczema and other painful skin complaints.

The benefits of natural ingredients for skin

If you’re someone with particularly sensitive skin, focusing on the healing qualities of natural ingredients may be helpful in avoiding any further irritation.

Preventative measures

Preventing overexposure to the sun from happening in the first place is far easier than worrying about how to treat sun-damaged skin. That is why taking the proper precautions before going into the sun is so important.

Daily sun protection

It’s important to wear sun protection every time you go out in summer, especially on the sensitive skin of your face. That’s why daily SPF should be part of your skin routine. It’s also advisable to monitor the daily UV index - if it’s at 3 or above, you’re at risk of UV damage if you don’t wear some form of sun protection - whether that’s clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, or SPF sunscreen.

Regular check-ups

If you notice any irregular marks on your skin after spending extended periods of time in the sun we would advise getting them checked by a doctor. Survival rates for melanoma skin cancer are greatly improved by catching it early - and women have a better survival rate than men, largely because women are more likely to get checked out than men are.

Stay safe in your skin

Loving the skin you’re in means more than just appreciating it for all that it does - it means protecting it too. Protect your skin with our range of sun care products.