You're back and you're brown, but your skin is dry and peeling. Luckily, help is at hand - with HELLO!'s recovery plan you can repair and soothe the damage, giving your face and body a break once yours is over.
Why is it that the minute your return flight touches down on home soil after your summer holiday, your skin starts to peel, your longed-for tan begins to look a little the worse for wear and not even the best after-sun can cope with the fallout?
The truth is that every suntan is actually sun damage. Add to that the dehydrating effects of daily swimming in salt and chlorinated water, the skin-tightening dry air of the plane cabin and the shock of returning to a colder climate and you have a recipe for skin hell.
What you need is damage limitation and now is the time to start. Thankfully, a new generation of body lotions, face serums, after-suns and even skin supplements is on your side, promising to help you repair and care for your holiday-ravaged skin.
"There really is no such thing as a safe tan," says Dr Des Fernandes, a leading dermatologist and skin cancer expert. "The very act of tanning is your body's response to sun exposure and damage. But that's not to say that you should just forget about caring for your skin – in fact, you owe it to your skin to care for it even more if you have damaged it."
That debt is greater still if you have allowed yourself to get burnt. "Many people still get sunburn on holiday – not because they don't use SPF, but because they don't use enough and often think that wearing it means they can lie out in the sun all day, every day, which is just not true," says Dr Fernades. "I always advise a double dose of vitamin A, firstly internally, then externally. It's the only vitamin that the skin uses to actually repair sun damage immediately – it can take the redness and pain out of sunburn overnight."
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Because vitamin A is water soluble, unless you are pregnant you do not need to worry about overdosing on it. Dr Fernades recommends that you "take 10,000 iu, twice a day, with some ibuprofen, which is both a painkiller and anti-inflammatory".
The next step is to hydrate your skin and the key here is to lock in moisture and keep it there. "Look for a serum rich in vitamin A, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid for day and a pigment-correcting serum for night, to tackle uneven brown spots and patches," advises Epionce founder and clinical dermatologist Dr Carl Thornfeldt. "Modern formulations mean that a serum can contain all your skin needs to repair and protect itself without you having to use occlusive, heavy creams that are often not needed on holiday or in the warmer, more humid summer months."
At last, the same is now true of after-suns – for so long the most dreaded daily skincare step after a holiday. The application of the technology behind facial serums means we can finally wave goodbye to heavy, gunky and sticky formulations and welcome after-suns that are super-lightweight yet still highly effective.
Our favourites are the very clever in-shower sprays from Vichy and Nivea, which lock water onto and into the skin and leave a really flattering silky finish. The former is sprayed on, then rinsed off; the latter you spray on, then towel yourself dry. If you start to peel, try a lactic acid body lotion or face mask – these offer a double whammy of benefits, both hydrating and exfoliating away the damaged skin cells.
Finally, do not forget that you can also nourish your skin from within, with targeted nutritional supplements. "To be hydrated and maintain a healthy glow, our skin needs omegas 3 and 6, plus vitamin A," says nutritional consultant Lorraine Perretta. "Unfortunately, most people don't get enough of these super skin nutrients in their diet. So a combination of these ingredients makes an effective internal skin booster." In other words, if you are not eating oily fish three times a week, you need to top up with a supplement – your skin will thank you in the long term.
1. Vichy Idéal Soleil Double Usage After-sun, £9.75, from Boots 2. Garnier Ambre Solaire After Sun Hydrating Tan Maintainer, £5, from Boots 3. Nivea Sun In-shower After Sun Refresh, £5, from Boots 4. No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Facial Recovery Aftersun, £12, from Boots 5. Ameliorate Body Lotion, £27.50, from M&S Beauty and feelunique.com. This lactic acid-rich body lotion can sort out dry summer skin overnight 6. Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Vit A+, £19.95 for 60 capsules; visit advancednutritionprogramme.com 7. Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Omegas+, £11.50 for 20 capsules 8. Environ Intensive Revival Masque, £49.95, from Harvey Nichols. A blend of lactic, Asiatic and mandelic acids to clear away dead and damaged surface skin cells. 9. Epionce MelanoLyte Pigment Perfection Serum, £87.50; visit epionce.co.uk. Will tackle uneven pigmentation when applied at night. Super-lightweight, it also features a low-level self-tanner.