You really can’t have the cake and eat it, I am afraid. Sun exposure induces a group of enzymes called MMPs (‘matrix metallo proteinases’). One of them is collagenase, who’s job it is to break down collagen – ultimately leading to lines, wrinkles and reduced skin elasticity. Sun exposure also increases free radical generation with oxidative stress in your skin, another major contributing factor to premature skin ageing.
There is no way around sun protection (and even better sun avoidance!), if you serious about preventing premature skin ageing. Remember, in fair skin tanning is a sign of cellular damage in your skin – a cry for help! However, daily application of a high grade antioxidant serum (for example containing pure vitamin C and vitamin E in high concentrations) is certainly beneficial, especially if you are exposured to the sun. But don’t let that be an excuse to over-expose your skin to the sun!
You could of course also add a vitamin A cream in the evening (for example containing retinol or retinaldehyde) to help re-build your collagen after your holiday. However, vitamin A containing skincare shouldn’t really be used in direct combination with sun exposure, as it’s known to make your skin more sun sensitive, so in my opinion best to start after the holiday. But don’t forget that it doesn’t make any sense to desperately try and stimulate your skin’s collagen production with products like vitamin A creams, if you are at the same time busy degrading your collagen by lying in the sun. That’s like trying to fill a bucket with water, which has a huge hole in the bottom.
So the bottom line is – if you are really committed about protecting your skin from visible signs of premature ageing, you should NOT sun bath … sorry to be the bearer of bad news.