Body Work

There’s no time like the present to tackle your skin’s sun damage.

At a certain age, the sun-dappled shoulders and freckled forearms that once signaled a well-spent summer start to lose their appeal, conjuring up images of leather rather than leisure. That’s when it’s time to start treating the skin on your body—especially on your arms, which see the most exposure—like the skin on your face, with treatment creams and protective sunscreens. After all, the most common offender for below-the-neck aging is sun damage. Short sleeves, car windows, and convertibles all make it worse.

“Young hyperpigmentation tends to be the patches of dark pigment that haven’t surfaced yet to the outermost layers of the skin—they are in their early stages of development and are usually in the deeper layers of the dermis,” explains Lauren Kim, digital marketing manager at Goodal, a Korean skin-care brand whose bestselling Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum ($24) contains 70% organic green tangerine extract and in a study conducted by the Korea Institute of Dermatological Sciences was shown to visibly reduce young hyperpigmentation with its unique combination of vitamin C, niacinamide, and arbutin to slow down pigment production.


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A new prescription skin-care line that uses derm telemedicine, Musely sends you a customized skincare treatment cream after an easy, three-minute, $20 online consult that you can complete on your phone. To lighten brown spots and reverse sun damage, prescription-strength Musely Face Rx The Body Cream ($80 for a 60-day supply) comes in Vanish (hydroquinone, tretinoin, glycolic acid, and vitamin C) or Fade (tretinoin, glycolic acid, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid)—the doctor on call determines which one is right for you. Patients can check in with the Musely app to track progress and ask questions.

Whether you’re treating the spots you see or the ones you don’t (yet), dermatologists agree that mineral sunscreen and long sleeves (especially those with UPF, the fabric equivalent of SPF) are your best line of defense. “The best prevention for young hyperpigmentation is sun protection,” says Binh Ngo, MD, a dermatologist at Keck Medicine of USC.

“If a patient does not protect their skin from the sun, any additional treatment for sun damage will be less effective or ineffective,” adds Maggie Chow, MD, a dermatologist at Keck Medicine of USC. She recommends chemical peels to improve discoloration, lasers to treat sun damage–related redness, and mineral sunscreens SPF 30 or higher with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to help block damaging UV light.

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