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Get the latest on protecting your skin

NOL_HiRes_P.1-34_Page_14_Image_0001.jpgSunscreen? Yawn. SPF? Boring. Skin cancer? Not in my family. Deep wrinkles and age spots? What did you say?

Now that we have your undivided attention, it’s time you stopped being over it when it comes to sun protection. There’s more danger under the sun, so before you roll your eyes at yet another story on the same old evils of the sun, stop! Trust us, there is something new to tell you. After all, keeping pace with the complicated science of sun protection is like keeping up with the romantic entanglements of a Hollywood starlet.

Knowing how to protect yourself against those harmful rays is essential to preventing not only prematurely aged skin but also skin cancer, a disease that is on the rise. So, read on for some easy to use tips. And don’t wait until it’s too late to put them into practice.

1. Plan Not To Tan
There’s no avoiding the fact that sunlight damages your skin. A suntan is a sign that your skin has been damaged. Sunburns are even worse. The sun is strongest during the middle of the day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The more damage the sun does to your skin, the more likely you are to get early wrinkles, skin cancer, and other skin problems.

2. Repel the Rays
Use a sunscreen or sunblock with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, even on cloudy days. Use a lot of sunscreen and rub it in well. You should put the sunscreen on thirty minutes before you go into the sun. Put the sunscreen everywhere the sun’s rays might touch you, even on your ears and the back of your neck. Men should also put it on any bald areas on the top of their head. Reapplication of sunscreen is important, especially if you’re perspiring. Ingredients such as Mexoryl, avobenzone, zinc oxide, titanium oxide help block UVA rays which cause wrinkles. Oral supplements such as Heliocare can supplement your sunscreen.

Remember that using sunscreen is just part of a program to prevent skin cancer. To greatly lower your risk, you must follow all of the safe-sun guidelines.

3. Leave Nothing Uncovered
If you have to be out in the sun, cover up your skin. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, protective clothing, and sunglasses. A wide-brimmed hat will help protect your face, neck and ears from the sun. A hat with a 6-inch brim all around is the best. Baseball caps don’t protect the back of your neck or the tops of your ears. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun. Choose sunglasses that block both ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays. Sun exposure increases your risk of getting cataracts. Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes from cataracts.

Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants made of tightly woven fabric. If the clothes fit loosely, you will feel cooler. Special sun-protective clothes are available from several companies.

4. Tanning Salons, Bad!
Tanning booths damage your skin just like real sunlight does.

5. Be High Maintenance
Some doctors think it’s a good idea to do a monthly skin check. Ask your doctor about this. If your doctor thinks it’s a good idea for you, check your skin once a month for signs of skin cancer, such as irregular moles. The earlier skin cancer is found, the greater the chance that it can be cured. Try doing your skin check on the same date every month. Pick a day that you can remember, like the date of your birthday or the day you pay bills.

Stand in front of a full-length mirror and use a hand-held mirror to check every inch of your skin, including the bottoms of your feet and the top of your head. Have someone help you check the top of your head. Try using a blow-dryer set on low speed to move your hair out of the way.

Look for any changes in a mole or the appearance of a new mole. Any moles that appear after you turn age 30 should be watched carefully and shown to your doctor.

TIP: Remember, taking precautions when young will decrease expensive lasers and peels later in life that will be necessary to restore aging skin to a younger appearance

Application 101

  • Visualize a golf ball as you squirt sunscreen into your palm–that’s about how much you should be applying to your entire body. According to a 2004 Johnson & Johnson study, most of us miss the mark big time, applying about onethird that amount.
  • Give every inch of skin equal attention. The same study reveals that our application techniques are patchy at best – we tend to apply more on our shoulders, forearms and the tops of our thighs and less on our back, the backs of our legs and the perimeter of our clothing. And since skin cancer is an equal-opportunity killer – it doesn’t prefer one area of the body over the other – whether you’re spraying or slathering, even coverage is essential.