6 Quick Beauty Fixes for All Your Summer Skin Issues
A Spotless Décolletage
A retinoid cream—either prescription, like Retin-A, or over-the-counter (look for retinol in the ingredient list)—will lighten discoloration and soften rough patches caused by sun damage. Two to four treatments with a KTP laser or intense pulsed light (IPL) can more dramatically minimize both the brown spots and redness caused by UV exposure. (Cost: At least $500 per session.) A fractional nonablative laser, like the Fraxel Dual, greatly improves not just the color but also the texture of the skin. You'll probably need at least two treatments. (Cost: Around $1,000 each.)
A rich shaving cream and a four-blade razor (try Bic Soleil Bella, $7) are all you need to get smooth legs for at least a day or two. Laser treatments can drastically reduce the amount of hair on your legs (or bikini line or underarms) for good. After three monthly sessions, most patients have 50 to 80 percent less hair in the treated area, says Tina Alster, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center. (Cost: About $350 for each laser session.)
Self-tanner works like magic to make leg veins less noticeable. Try L'Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Clear Self-Tanning Gel ($10.50) for natural color and nonstreaky finish. Sclerotherapy—in which a solution is injected into individual veins—will get rid of those blue squiggles permanently. Until recently, most doctors used saline, which could sting, but many have now switched to the painless Asclera, made with a detergent solution called polidocanol (approved by the FDA last year). Two or three treatments are usually necessary, and the veins look worse before they get better in about a month. (Cost: Around $350 per treatment.)
While a stretch mark or scar is still red (which can last from months to years), three or four treatments with a Vbeam pulsed-dye laser will improve its appearance considerably, says Arielle Kauvar, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at NYU Medical Center. (Cost: At least $300 per session.) Once the mark has turned white, the best treatment option is a nonablative fractional laser. Four or five sessions can improve the mark's color and texture from 50 to 90 percent. (Cost: $400 to $1,600 each.) For an immediate fix, use a heavy, full-coverage concealer (like Dermablend Quick-Fix Concealer, $22); match it to the darker skin around the mark.
A Slimmer Silhouette
Even sylphlike models slip into shapewear to minimize bulges around the hips and waist. When temperatures are high, try Jockey's lightweight Shaper Brief ($19). Looking for a longer-term solution? A new device, Zeltiq's CoolSculpting, uses intense cold to destroy fat cells. CoolSculpting was approved by the FDA last fall for body contouring, and doctors are excited about the results. "It's fantastic for getting rid of pockets of localized fat, like love handles or muffin top," says Jeffrey Dover, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. The procedure is virtually painless; some patients experience aching in the treated area for a few days afterward, but most have no side effects. You'll see the maximum results after four months; more than one treatment may be necessary. (Cost: About $1,400 per treatment.)
A long skirt can still allow for a sexy flash of your knees. If yours look more droopy than you'd like, tightening your quadriceps with squats might help. Are you convinced you want to tighten the skin around your knees? Then you'll have to visit a dermatologist. Some have seen noticeable results from Ulthera, a new device that heats the lower layers of the skin with ultrasound to spur collagen growth. One treatment should do, but it hurts—most patients take a prescription pain medication, like Percocet, and an antianxiety pill, like Valium. Thermage, which uses radiofrequency energy to grow new collagen, can also tighten loose skin on the knees and is less painful than Ulthera. (Cost for either: At least $600.) Both techniques are most effective in the early stages of sagging.