Anti-Aging Tips – Don’t Let the Sun Shine on You

October 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Skin Care

Once you’ve homed in on your sunblock of choice, you have to make a commitment to using it properly. Before you step outside, you should apply at least a teaspoon-sized portion to your bare face and give it time to be absorbed. Those with very sensitive skin should seek a chemical-free sunblock, such as one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide; those with acne-prone skin should use a gel-based formula. Remember that sand and water reflect almost 100 percent of sunlight, so for that big outing on a bright day, make sure to have your new favorite product on hand and reapply it often. Finally, reach for a hat and sunglasses before heading outdoors. Just remem­ber that a hat on its own offers almost negligible protection. A dark canvas hat that doesn’t let any light show through is your best bet, although it does not protect against reflective rays.

A little-known but commonsense fact is that clothing offers a natural SPF. A white cotton T-shirt offers the equivalent of SPF 5 to 7, and switching to a black version ups the SPF to 20. There’s even an innovative new product, Rit SunGuard, that allows you to add extra protection to your clothing simply by throwing it in the wash. The protectant that it contains ups the clothing’s SPF to a minimum of 30 and lasts through almost 20 washes. Tinted windows, too, block UVA and UVB rays, as do the white gloves that many of my patients in Miami wear as they drive in the hot sun. (Those are my favorite patients!)

A new trend emerged a few years ago: makeup products, such as foundations, that came already loaded with sunscreen. While I think this is a step in the right direction, 1 still insist that you use a traditional sunscreen. Why? First, most of the new products feature only a minute amount of sunscreen. Sec­ond, and perhaps more important, recent studies show that sunscreen in makeup virtually disappears a mere two hours after application, leaving you with only the assumption of pro­tection. Honestly, I resent the false sense of security that these products create. Bottom line: always use a separate sunscreen.

You’ve probably heard that we receive more than 80 per­cent of damage from the sun before the age of eighteen. Judg­ing by the many patients who have sat in my office and reminisced about having suntanning competitions when they were teenagers, I’m not surprised. I think this fact is worth repeating, but I also hesitate to bring it up because some sun fanatics might interpret it as an invitation to indulge in even more damage. The damage is already done, right? But please, let’s remember that those were the days when baby oil was the tanning tool of choice and ignorance was bliss; we now know that no excuse for voluntarily speeding the aging process is good enough. Even after years of tanning, someone who be­comes serious about sun protection can achieve a great im­provement in his or her skin. The body is amazingly efficient at fighting free-radical damage, especially when it’s given a helping hand. I hope that the message is clear: embrace a natural aesthetic. Your face—and your dermatologist—will thank you for it.

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