Summer is rough on skin. After all that sun, surf, heat and humidity, your skin could use a little TLC.
"Winter is the best time of year to work on facial rejuvenation because you're indoors more and not so exposed to the sun and the elements, which are harsh on your skin," says Dr. Cynthia Bailey, board-certified dermatologist and founder of a beauty blog (http://www.DrBaileySkinCare.com/blog). "Sun exposure causes the outer skin layer to thicken -- a protective response to help lessen UV ray exposure. The outer dead cells of your skin thicken and leather up from exposure to sun and the elements. This leaves skin dull-looking and rough."
This protective response also makes sun freckles, liver spots and age spots thicker and darker, causing uneven skin pigmentation, Bailey says. To combat these harsh effects, adopt a three-tier battle plan: exfoliate, hydrate and rejuvenate.
"Hydration involves bathing with mild soaps -- for example, glycerin soaps -- and moisturizing within three minutes after toweling dry, using a rich moisturizer," Bailey says. "To add exfoliation, scrub your skin in the shower with a slightly rough body sponge, exfoliating mitt or luffa, and then use a moisturizer with alpha hydroxy acid after toweling dry."
Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, have been shown to rejuvenate skin by reducing wrinkles, diminishing the signs of aging and improving the overall look and feel of the skin. They also help even out skin tone by lightening darkened sun freckles, Bailey says.
Try these quick and easy at-home treatments to further combat dry, sun-weathered skin and restore that glowing complexion:
*Do It With Dairy
For an instant skin brightening treatment and sunburn relief, look no further than your fridge. Greek-style plain yogurt applied directly to the skin is a favorite among aestheticians for soothing irritation and rejuvenating tired complexions.
"Applying plain yogurt like a mask can really cool sunburned skin," explains Vera Kantor, owner of the Verabella facial spa. "The naturally occurring lactic acid found in yogurt brightens the skin and increases cell turnover. The sun-damaged skin cells will be lifted away before they have a chance to cause permanent discoloration."
"Dairy proteins are incredible skin soothers," says aesthetician Scott-Vincent Borba, author of "Skintervention: The Personalized Solution for Healthier, Younger, and Flawless-Looking Skin." Borba recommends cold milk baths to revitalize irritated skin.
Fill the bathtub with cool water, and then add 1 gallon of vitamin D milk and 2 Alka-Seltzer tablets; the carbonation helps tame the irritation. As your body acclimates to the cool water, slowly add 12-24 ice cubes to chill the bath water, and soak for 10-20 minutes.
*Get Your Vitamins
Long touted for warding off winter illness, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that gives tired and sun-drenched skin a big boost.
"Usually, skin has taken quite a beating by the time summer comes to an end," says aesthetician Shalea Walker, founder of Walker's Apothecary, a specialty skin care boutique. "Anytime your skin is exposed to extreme temperatures and conditions, it suffers. As we head into winter, it is really important to use vitamin C treatments to reverse previous sun damage and to prevent further sun damage from occurring."
Any moisturizer, lotion or facial treatment that contains vitamin C will help protect and replenish skin, but for the best results, Walker recommends a vitamin C serum added to your morning routine.
"Vitamin C protects skin from free radicals, which we develop because of exposure from the sun, environmental pollution and smoking," Walker explains. "Vitamin C also promotes the production of collagen in the skin, which is essential for our skin's firmness."
*Exfoliate With Epsom Salts
Epsom salts -- or magnesium sulfate -- make an excellent, inexpensive exfoliant, which is just what skin needs after a summer of exposure to the elements.
According to celebrity skin care guru Ole Henriksen, exfoliation revs up circulation and facilitates the elimination of toxins and impurities trapped in the skin. It also removes excess dead skin, which leaves skin softer, smoother and more luminous -- and perfectly primed for quick absorption of lotion or moisturizer.
"Epsom salts have amazing detoxifying properties, and the texture is firm yet very smooth to the touch. This makes the exfoliation process comfortable for all skin types," Henriksen says.
For an easy at-home scrub, try Henriksen's "Shower Smoothie":
--4 ounces of Epsom salts.
--4 ounces of coffee grounds.
--1 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil.
Mix the Epsom salts and coffee grounds in a medium bowl. Add the eucalyptus oil and enough sesame oil to form a smooth paste. Stir thoroughly. While showering, turn off the water and apply the mixture. Use the entire palm of each hand to scrub your body vigorously with the paste for several minutes, from your neck to your feet. Rinse thoroughly. Follow with a rich moisturizer to soften skin further.