Health Features

Repair & Rejuvenate

As much as we worship the sun and seek the great outdoors, both can be a bit of a double-edged sword. They offer numerous benefits for mood and physical health, but too much of a good thing can produce results we’d rather avoid. Skin and hair often fall prey to summer heat, sun and fun, so local experts offer advice on counteracting the elements’ most damaging effects.

summer hair repair
Did you spend June through August lounging by the pool and cooling off in the water? Did your locks end up looking and feeling like straw because of the sun and chlorine? Don’t despair, say area hair experts. They have advice, products and treatments that can help.

pool your efforts
“Any kind of water can have an effect on your hair, whether it’s from the ocean or pool,” says Sam Oberkrom, director of education at Dominic Michael Salon. “Water enters the hair cuticle and displaces natural moisture, oils and minerals that are there for balance. It can do the same to your hair’s color molecules. You’ll often see color fading during summer months when people are swimming.” Color can be boosted with services like a rejuvenating salon gloss treatment, she notes.

If chlorine is your summer nemesis, Oberkrom also advises a salon visit to restore hair to its former glory. “If your hair feels slick or slimy after the pool, that’s chlorine buildup,” she notes. “We offer detoxifying treatments to remove it. Or if the problem’s not that serious, products from manufacturers like Aveda can help.” Rosalie Broadway, stylist and assistant manager at Nicole’s of Ladue salon, says those who suffer from chlorine overload can try chelating shampoos to help reverse ‘swimmer’s hair.’ “Especially if you’re blond, you may see staining from chlorine and pool additives that contain copper,” she says. “A chelating shampoo has ingredients that bond with the metal molecules and remove them.”

prevent damage
Broadway says other elements can take their toll on hair as well. Summer ponytails can mean broken and damaged hair from elastic bands, and wind can cause tangling, dryness and breakage. “Use gentle elastics without metal closures, or try silicone bands,” she says. “Silicone is especially good because it doesn’t grab and cause damage. And always avoid rubber bands!”

Oberkrom says if your hair is already dry, further outdoor heat exposure and heated styling tools should be avoided as much as possible. “If you need to use a heat tool like a curling iron or straightener, start at the back of your head,” she advises. “The iron will be hottest in the first spot you place it, so don’t start on the sides, where hair is more delicate. That can cause breakage, especially if your hair is already in questionable shape!” She also advises using a hair dryer with a diffuser attachment to soften the flow of hot air.

If you want to prevent summer damage to your hair next year, try using pool water treatments that don’t contain copper, Broadway advises. “It’s also a good idea to use a silicone conditioner right before you swim,” she says. “Work it into your hair and pin it up right before you jump in. This will help insulate hair from damage, and it’s safe for any hair type.” Conditioning hair masks also can help with dryness and brittleness and are available at salons and drugstores.

a wrinkle in time
Your face tells the story of life’s peaks and valleys, from smile lines to forehead wrinkles. But the tale doesn’t have to be a scary one, experts say. Surgical and nonsurgical treatments are available to help keep your skin looking supple and smooth as you age, whether you seek the sun or not.

between the lines
Washington University plastic surgeon Dr. John Chi says there is more than one type of facial wrinkle. Static wrinkles are those that can be seen when your face isn’t moving, and deeper wrinkles are caused by sagging skin and loss of facial tissue volume. Fine lines can result from pursing the lips, frowning or smiling, Chi notes.

For those lines, he often recommends injectable Botox, which can be used on patients with nearly any skin texture or quality. Other injectable treatments such as Volbella can help with lines and wrinkles caused by lip pursing or facial movement, he says. “Many patients are concerned about the nasolabial folds that run from each side of the nose to the corners of the mouth, and marionette lines that extend from the mouth corners to the chin,” he says. “Injectables like Juvederm also can be used for these types of wrinkles.”

tighten up
If you have wrinkles on your neck, Chi says surgical intervention is generally the way to address them. “They usually are caused by excess or sagging skin,” he explains. “In this situation, you need to surgically remove some of the skin and tighten it.”

A fairly new ‘transcutaneous’ treatment uses ultrasonic energy to tighten tissues under the skin’s surface, resulting in a smoother look, Chi says. It’s an office procedure that uses a topical anesthetic and a handheld probe to deliver the energy into deeper tissues. And for patients with a large amount of excess skin, neck or face-lifts can be a good option, he notes. When a patient first comes in to discuss wrinkles, Chi says he determines whether they are caused by movement of the face or loss of tissue volume (like sunken cheeks). If the latter is true, permanent cheek or chin implants made of silicone or plastic may be an option. They can plump up affected areas and help smooth away wrinkles, he notes.

after-summer skin
Your skin is your first line of defense against health problems. but even the toughest walls have to be maintained. That’s never more true than after a summer outdoors immersed in sun, wind and water. Here are some ways to keep skin health in mind after summer elements have taken their toll.

skin in the game
Dr. Joseph Muccini of MidAmerica Skin Health & Vitality Center says summer fun can bring with it some payback in terms of skin health. “Summer is a time when people want to enjoy themselves outdoors and get a tan,” he notes. “Unfortunately, they are creating problems for their skin at the same time. Even if you use sunscreen daily, it’s hard to prevent all damage unless you spend your summer indoors.”

Muccini says sun damage can cause skin discoloration, which often manifests as blotchy, brown spots. Vascular problems such as flushing and spider veins can appear as well. Plant- or drug-based bleaching creams, or chemical peels, may be the answer to summer damage depending on the patient’s needs, he notes. BBL (broadband light) treatments performed in a medical office can even out skin tone. And facials, microdermabrasion and skin serums can rejuvenate post-summer skin as well.

“Collagen degradation, fine lines, wrinkles and large pores often result from the abuses of summer,” says Carol Anderson, BCRN, BSN, CANS, owner of Nouveau MedSpa. “Forever Young BBL treatments can help with problems like broken capillaries, dark pigmentation, sunspots and age spots. Now that you’ve lost your tan, it can be a good time to get your glow back.” Anderson also recommends hydrating facials, chemical peels and salt scrubs to help rejuvenate post-summer skin.

think ahead
Preparation and timing are key in helping your skin bounce back, Muccini says. “If you’ve been delaying major skin treatments like tightening and resurfacing because you wanted to wear shorts and swimsuits, now is the time to schedule them,” he says. “Some procedures are done in a series, so there’s no better time than the end of summer, when you’re back to wearing longer sleeves and pants, especially since some treatments require recovery time.” Some techniques, including spider vein treatments, should not be done when the skin is tan, he adds.

“If you regret how you treated your skin this summer, make a resolution to do better next year,” Muccini advises. “Moisturizer, hats and sunscreen are a good start. Talk with your doctor or aesthetician about intelligent skin care options that will help undo this year’s damage and prevent more next year.” And you should never ignore good health, he says; see your doctor if you have put yourself at risk for cancer and other skin problems.