Need Post-Vacay Beauty Rehab? Here's What to Do

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There’s nothing like a week (or if you’re European, a month) off to restore your mind and body—and totally wreck your skin and hair. Just get back? We here to help:

Did your hair color change?
It doesn’t matter whether you have highlights, a single process or rainbow stripes—if you hair is color-treated, saltwater will fade it and “the sun can oxidize it, turning it into an unsavory brassy shade,” says Cara Craig, colorist at Suite Caroline salon in N.Y.C. Swim in a pool? “Hair is like a sponge,” says Craig. “It will soak up the chlorine, which can lead to a green cast.”

What to do now: If your blonde color took a turn for the brassy, reach for a purple-toned treatment. Craig recommends Christophe Robin Shade Variation Care in Baby Blond (below, $51; If you’re brunette, use one that’s blue. We like Joico Color Balance Conditioner ($18; They’re opposites on the color spectrum, and therefore help cancel out the undesirable hue. Sporting green strands? Well, you could just go with it (the wild color trend isn’t going anywhere), or use a treatment like Malibu Swimmers Remedy ($4;, which removes the chemical buildup. Before you take a dive in the ocean or pool, slather your hair in a protective mask like Phillip Kinglsey Swimcap ($38; Laying outside? Wear a wide-brim hat (it’ll shield your skin too).

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Did your skin color change?
“Any time your skin gets red from the sun, it means there is some degree of damage there,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in N.Y.C. It doesn’t matter whether you got a little or a lot of a glow: “While a single tan may not be harmful, even low levels of UV light exposure add up over a lifetime,” says Dr. Zeichner. “And that can lead to premature aging and skin cancers.”

What to do now: You can’t undo the damage, but you can mitigate it. “Topical antioxidants like vitamins C, E, ferulic acid and phloretin may help put out the low-grade fires lingering in your skin,” says Zeichner. For the body, we like the Vitamin E-infused Moroccanoil After-Sun Milk (below, $28;, and for the face, Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($162; If you’re suffering from a burn, popping an Advil can help bring down the swelling, and “a combination of hydrating ingredients like aloe along with topical cortisone cream will cool the inflammation,” says Zeichner. At night, try an at-home compress using “egg whites or skim milk and ice cubes,” Zeichner suggests. “They contain proteins that bind and calm the skin.” And—without question—if the burn doesn’t start improving in a couple of days or you’ve got a fever, chills or nausea, go to the dermatologist immediately. Next time—be on top of your SPF game (and make sure you see your derm for a yearly skin cancer check)!

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Did your hair texture change?
If you’re noticing more frizz or your strands have taken on a sand-paper-like feel, it’s not surprising. Spending a week in a humid, tropical climate “can make hair wild, big and unruly,” says Craig. And dryness is a natural side effect of spending time in the sun, saltwater and pool.

What to do now: “Regain more control with hydration,” says Craig, who recommends coating strands with a daily leave-in like GM Reverie Milk ($42 And a thick moisture mask will help get your hair back to pre-vacay softness: “Your hair needs a lot of conditioning TLC after vacation,” says Craig, who loves Oribe Gold Lust Transformative Mask (below, $62; For your next trip, make sure you condition your hair in some way every day—whether wearing a leave-in hydrator in the sun or a deep treatment in the shower.

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Did you get stung by your margarita?
Lime is the perfect finish to a lot of beachside beverages, but if it gets on your skin while you’re out in the sun “it can cause a phototoxic reaction,” says Dr. Zeichner. “This results in a red rash that heals with dark spots.”

What to do now: Head to the dermatologist. Because the effects of the dermatitis can vary, you’ll want an expert opinion on treating it, particularly if it’s blistering. Moving forward, don’t stop putting lime on everything—it’s delicious. Just wash any errant spritzes off your skin immediately when you’re outside.

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Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

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