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Saving Your Skin
Sunscreen Is Just the Beginning

We all need to protect our skin from the sun's deadly ultraviolet rays, Scandinavian and Mediterranean ancestry alike. It is true that Latin skin offers more protection, and the darker you are naturally, the more protection you have. But higher protection does not mean you are home free. Those rays can still penetrate to do their damage, especially if you spend a lot of time in the sun, and sunburns raise your risk of developing melanoma. Cancer is the biggest health risk, but the sun takes a serious cosmetic toll, too. Years of sunbathing or working out of doors will result in premature ageing, deep wrinkles and freckle-like discoloration on your face, chest and shoulders. That deep summer tan you're showing off today can add many years to your appearance in your 30s, 40s and beyond.

(Article continued below.)

So take preventative measures today to keep your skin healthy and youthful looking. Here is what you can do to avoid sun damage:

  • Use a broad spectrum SPF sunblock whenever you go outside during daylight hours. The usual recommendation is SPF 15 or higher, but you are even better off with SPFs of 30, 45 or even higher. Reapply frequently, and if you're going in the water, use a water-resistant sunscreen.
  • Slather that sunscreen on every exposed area of your body - face, ears, neck (including the back of the neck), shoulders, arms, midriff, back, legs and feet (if you are wearing sandals). Also remember your lips — wear an SPF 15 or greater lip balm or lipstick. And here's a beauty tip: they say that you can tell a woman's age by looking at her hands, but a lifetime of applying sunscreen on them, along with moisturizing regularly, will help keep people guessing.
  • When out in the sun, wear a hat with a broad brim and sunglasses (always stylish anyway) and hunt out shady areas.
  • Avoid sun during the peak hours between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M. whenever possible.
  • Don't use a tanning bed, ever. They flood you with dangerous UV rays. Want more color? There are loads of self-tanning products on the market now that give your skin a healthy hue. Some salons and spas are even offering spray-on tanning services in lieu of tanning beds.
  • Examine yourself from head to toe every month for any changes in your skin. If you find new moles, moles that have changed appearance, asymmetric moles, or sores that won't heal, have them looked at by your doctor or a dermatologist right away.
  • Make sure your baby is properly protected too. Newborns and infants up to six months should not be exposed to the sun at all. Over that age, they should always wear sunscreen on their delicate skin. There are loads of baby sunscreens on the market — make sure to apply them to your child 30 minutes before sun exposure. Babies and toddlers should always have their heads covered with a wide-brimmed bonnet, and dress them in tightly-woven, loose-fitting clothing. Make sure your stroller offers lots of shade and time your walks for early in the morning or late in the afternoon. And remember, school-aged children spend more time in the sun than you probably do — they also need protection before they are sent outside to play.

Here are a few items you might want to check out that'll help you stay sun-safe:

SkinCeuticals Sport UV Defense SPF 45
One of the biggest complaints about sunscreen is that it stings the eyes when you sweat. SkinCeuticals' zinc oxide formula is far easier on the eyes, and just as effective. At $30+ for a 3 ounce tube, it's a splurge, but if you're using a good drugstore variety, such as Neutrogena, for the rest of your body, it lessens the bite on your wallet.

Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing
This brand is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Their line includes styles for her, him and the kids too, and their items block up to 98 percent of the sun's ultraviolet rays. These clothes are reasonably priced, about the same as the non-protective clothing you might see when you're shopping at your local mall.

Rit Sun Guard
You don't have to replace your whole summer wardrobe with special, sun-protective clothing, however. Adding Rit Sun Guard to the wash cycle next time you do laundry will boost the SPF rating of your everyday clothes. It won't change the color or texture of your outfits and it's safe for the whole family.

"I Will Reflect" Wristband
This sleek photosensitive wristband changes color from white to purple when it's exposed to harmful UVA rays. Along with being a reminder to wear your sunblock, the bracelet is part of SpaFinder's Melanoma Initiative program, and proceeds from its purchase go towards melanoma research and awareness-raising programs. Find it for a mere $4.95 at www.spafinder.com/melanoma or at selected spas.

Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel Still want that golden hue? This self-tanning gel gets loads of raves and was a "Best of Sephora" winner. It absorbs quickly, and your "tan" starts developing within a couple of hours.

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