Despite best efforts to mind SPF, treasured days spent in the salty sea and under a blazing sun takes a toll on skin. And while most want to take on summer’s final victory lap, it’s also a good time to pause, evaluate, and make a plan for damage control. “Sun damage is a cumulative ongoing process throughout life,” says Manhattan-based dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Hale. “It’s important to protect yourself [to] prevent against future sun damage in the form of pre-cancers and skin cancers.” Thankfully, a number of over the counter and in-office treatments are targeting everything from dull complexions to wrinkles, dark spots, and even precancerous lesions. Here, a comprehensive guide to fighting the signs of summer from every angle.

Target Your Efforts on the Cellular Level
When it comes to taking your post-sun skincare regime to the next level, Hale turns to a new crop of DNA repair creams and serums that mend the effects of UV exposure. Formulas like Neova’s triple enzyme serum can help “reverse some of the skin mutations that cause cancer and aging,” says Hale. By replacing sun-damaged cells with a new, non-mutated base, products like this can improve your internal health as well as erase visible signs of photoaging. Hale also recommends a late-night application of bio-advanced products made by the likes of DNA Renewal, which is packed with enzymes, peptides and botanical actives, because your body naturally restores its DNA when you are asleep.

Look to Antioxidants for Help
The body only has so many lines of defense in the fight against free radicals, which include wrinkle- and sag-inducing molecules generated by UV exposure. One way to fight this is through the production of antioxidants. Odacité’s Ac + R serum, which is driven by a combination of rose oil and a high concentration of cold-pressed antioxidant-packed Acaí, interrupts free radical reactions in the body, as does the blend of ferric acid and vitamin C in Hale’s favorite C E Ferulic serum by SkinCeuticals.

Trust, Don’t Rush, Retinol
Hale often prefers to improve post-summer skin quality and outward appearance through retinol. “It can help with brown spots and fine lines,” she says of the vitamin A derivative’s ability to supercharge cell turnover and stimulate collagen production. It’s important to slowly introduce products like AlphaRet and the ultra-gentle retinaldehyde-driven Avène RetrinAL 0.1 into your routine, says Hale. “[Patients] get so excited and use too much of it that it causes them to get dry and irritated, leaving them worse off than where they started.”