There are a ton of treatments out there for sun-damaged skin, ranging from inexpensive drug-store products to expensive dermatological treatments. While almost all of them work to some degree, there is a huge gap between the results achieved from each.

So where is the best place to put your money? Should you keep going the drug-store, beauty-counter route or is it worth it to pay for a professional treatment? Only you can decide that answer, but here are some facts about a few of the different types of sun damage products and treatments out there. Armed with the proper knowledge, you can make an informed decision for yourself.

Over-the-Counter Products

Over-the-counter products contain the lowest percentage of active ingredients, the ingredients that will heal sun damage, than all other types of treatments. The reason why is quite simple. The ingredients used to treat sun damage, such as glycolic acid, hydroxy acid and retinol, are dangerous in high concentrations. The upside is that over-the-counter products are the least expensive of all available treatments. However, they take a long time to work, about 12 weeks, and the results are minimal.

Chemical Peels

Performed by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, a chemical peel involves slathering the face with a chemical that removes the top layer of skin. Chemical peels provide better results than over-the-counter products, but they are expensive. The approximate cost for a chemical peel runs around $600. Peels are ideal for people with mild sun damage. It does take several treatments to obtain the best results, especially in older people.
Chemical peels do have a short recovery time, which is about two weeks. During this time, the face may appear red and blistered.

Laser Treatments

Laser treatments are the most effective, but they are also the most expensive. They can cost around $500 to $5,000, depending on the your needs. As with most treatments, laser treatments are performed as a series over the course of weeks or months. The results are gradual, which means it may take some time for you to notice a huge difference. However, you will notice more of a change with laser treatments than with other types of treatments.

Keep in mind that all treatments have side effects. Over-the-counter products have the least side effects while more invasive procedures, such as laser treatments, pose the greatest risks. You should consider side effects, cost, and results when deciding upon the best treatment for your sun-damaged skin.