I started travelling to Asia from a very young age for family holidays. I remember so distinctly the burning of the skin on my face, back and shoulders after a long day in the pool in Malaysia or Bali. If you have ever been badly sunburnt you will know the horrible hours that follow. I remember being in the hotel room with my Mum covering me with Aloe Vera Gel to soothe my burnt skin. Lets just say I didn’t learn my lesson.

In Melbourne in the early 2000’s there was a BODY BRONZE Tanning salon on practically every corner. I loved lying down in a solarium, especially on a cold and wintery day in Melbourne. I did remember asking Plastic Surgeon Mr Ian Carlisle once when I was Nursing at Cabrini Hospital, “what are the best treatments you can do for anti-ageing?” He replied ” Sunscreen, Laser, anti wrinkle injections and Vitamin A, and never ever, put your face in the sun young lady”. He explained to me that even when it was overcast outside, outside glare coming through the car windows would still have effects on ageing the skin. This advice did NOT deter me from the solarium although I DID apply a thick sunscreen to my face and cover it with a magazine during my tanning sessions.

What about since then? What I can tell you is that I have noticed that there is a marked and obvious difference between the even skin tone on my face to the marked and pigmented skin on my décolletage, neck and hands. I have been so busy protecting my face from the day I received that wonderful advice from Mr. Carlisle that I negelected the other areas. So what now? What do I do to improve tightness, the pigmentation and the quality of my skin after all the glorious sunbaking I have done in Thailand.

First things first would be Vitamin A. I love this product. Firstly Vitamin A basically turns your skin cells over, old ones gone so the new cells have the capacity to regenerate. A prescription only form is called Retin A Cream or Stevia, I call it “laser in a tube”, This product is to be used so very sparingly. This is a key ingredient for skin renewal. The product rids dull and dead skin cells away and speeds up cell turnover and repair. It does not stop there, Retinoids actually reduce oil glands and tighten the skin. The skin may be very scaly when you start to use a Retinoid cream. Every third night or once a week is a good place to start. LESS IS MORE. By about the 6-8 week period the skin becomes less sensitive to it. Be certain to use sunscreen if you are using this product.

AHA’s are water soluable. They have a positive effect on sun damaged skin. Glycolic acid is the original AHA used in skin care products though it can irritate and even scar darker skin so go easy, even introducing it once a week. I like a combination product of AHA’s and Vitamin A.

My favourite medium strength product is Aspect Dr Exfol A from Advanced Skin Technologies. This is a combination of AHA and Vitamin A and must be used at night. Over a two week period the skin appears to be fresher, tighter and rejuvenated. I didn’t really understand the value of this product until a woman in her 50’s came to have a consultation with me at the clinic. This lady had spent the majority of her life working on the land. Her skin was extremely sun damaged, and I say often ” there is no point using anti wrinkle injections and Fillers when the big blanket that is covering it all (the skin) is not at optimum quality. So I suggested she try some product and I reviewed her after 2 weeks. She was thrilled beyond belief and came into my room smiling. She even mentioned that her daughter had asked her if she had “had something done?”.

If I want to give my skin a little more punch, my “go to” higher strength product is PCA Intensive Age Refining 0.5% Pure Retinol Night. This is formulated to hydrate and protect visibly aged skin. This product delivers the goods without the Prescription and is perfect if I need a fast and dramatic anti-ageing outcome( before an event etc).

And PLEASE do not forget ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS USE SUNSCREEN, even in the shade. My favourite if Aspect Envirostat SPF 50. It smells like bananas and does not feel like a sunscreen. My next blog on sun damage will focus on laser treatments that work the best for pigmentation. Stay Tuned.