How to Fix Skin Damage Fast

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Blaubult-edition.comI don't remember when I first found out I was a Fitzpatrick Type II. According to the Fitzpatrick Scale, developed in 1975 by a Harvard dermatologist to classify skin types, I'm a fair person who shouldn't have ever tried to tan. (Damn you, bronzed 1980s!) Maybe that's why, in my later 40s, I'm spotty, a little saggy in the cheeks and seeing lines creep in.

Much of this is caused by the environment, mainly ultraviolet rays; it's called extrinsic aging. Other factors are smoking (not in my case), lack of sleep, a poor diet and repeated expressions (guilty!). Intrinsic aging, which happens naturally as skin cell turnover slows down, doesn't help. But I've learned it's never too late to press rewind (I even tried Botox!). Find your own skin fixes here.

I want line-free skin
Sun protection is key, says New York City dermatologist Elizabeth Hale, MD. Use a broad-spectrum block that stops line-causing UVA rays. Then fight back with retinoids, which fill fine lines by boosting collagen, and an antioxidant-rich moisturizer.

Repair recipe:

Anti-aging moisturizer with sunscreen. Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion AM moisturizer SPF 30 ($78; peterthomasroth.com) offers sun protection, plus a time-release formula that lets you incorporate line-busting retinol into your daytime routine.

Retinol serum. Retinoids can irritate, so start out by applying just a pea-size dab to your entire face three nights a week, then increase frequency. One that's not harsh on skin: La Roche- Posay Redermic R treatment ($56; laroche-posay.us).

Heavy-duty night cream. Skin loses antioxidants (which fight the damage that leads to lines) during the day, so you should aim to replenish them at night. Enter Estée Lauder Advanced Time Zone Night Creme ($70; esteelauder.com), with rhodochrosite extract.

The office option: Injectable botulinum toxins are really the gold standard, but you may also consider Fraxel Restore, a minimally invasive laser that evens fine lines and texture.

Next Page: I want hydrated and supple skin [ pagebreak ]

hydrate-supple-skin hydrate-supple-skin ) has glycerin and dimethicone to help lock in hydration.

P.M. moisturizer. SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Masque ($54; skinceuticals.com) is packed with moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid. After wearing the mask for 15 minutes, massage in the remainder. Voilà, rich night cream!

The office option: If you're really dry, ask your dermatologist about new prescription creams containing ceramides or hyaluronic acid, says Dr. Fusco.

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clear-skin-face clear-skin-face ), along with salicylic acid.

Spot treatment. Neutrogena All-In-1 Acne Control Facial treatment ($11; at mass retailers) uses soy to fade marks from past breakouts and vitamin A and salicylic acid to fight new zits.

The office option: "Medications that help include topical and oral antibiotics and retinoids, oral contraceptives and a drug called spironolactone," says Dr. Hale, who also uses peels containing salicylic acid, lasers (Isolaz or Smoothbeam) or photodynamic therapy to help clear skin.

Next Page: I want even skin tone [ pagebreak ]

even-skin-tone even-skin-tone , kojic acid or licorice root. And once you've gone to the trouble of lightening spots, preserve the results with good sunscreen habits.

Repair recipe:

Brightening cleanser. Garnier The Radiance Renewer Cleansing Gelée ($7; at mass retailers) contains citrus extracts (aka vitamin C) for brightening, as well as hydroxy acids for exfoliating.

Sunscreen plus moisturizer. Any SPF 30 or above sunscreen will help prevent new spots, but one with botanical extracts, like L'Occitane Immortelle Brightening Shield SPF 40 ($58; loccitane.com), also lightens existing ones.

Spot fader. Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector ($50 for 1 oz.; clinique.com) could save a trip to the dermatologist. It uses vitamin C, plant extracts and yeast extract to clear spots.

The office option: "The single best treatment for isolated sun spots is the Q-switched Ruby laser," says Dr. Hale. "One treatment usually gets rid of them." It will set you back $400 to $800.