10 Smart Ways to Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk
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- 1. Stop trying to get a "healthy" tan from the sun.
- 2. Know when to stay out of the sun completely.
- 3. Learn the truth about UVA and UVB rays.
- 4. Know the limits of your SPF.
- 5. Try the new-and-improved sun-protection ingredients.
- 6. Remember when to apply -- and reapply -- sunscreen.
- 7. Figure out how much sunscreen you need.
- 8. Wear a hat.
- 9. Wear clothes with built-in protection.
- 10. Use Retin-A to repair sun damage.
- Sun-Proof Your Body with Dietary Supplements
5. Try the new-and-improved sun-protection ingredients.
5. Try the new-and-improved sun-protection ingredients. But first know this about sun-protective lotions: No matter what they're called, some of them "block," while others "screen." Any product made with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide physically blocks both UVA and UVB rays, points out Dr. Adams. In other words, it forms a layer on the surface of the skin that repels the sun like an umbrella repels water. All others are made with chemicals that act like sponges, absorbing the sun's rays before your skin does. Although screens are popular because they feel creamier and don't look white on your skin, they're inferior to blocks when it comes to warding off damage, because they can break down and stop working even before they've been washed off.
There's some good news about screens, though: The next generation, recently approved by the FDA, stays effective longer than its predecessors -- and so keeps your skin safe for greater periods of time. Some Neutrogena products are now being made with helioplex, a stabilizer that keeps UVA-protective sunscreen from breaking down. And the new UVA protector Mexoryl works longer than other chemicals of its kind, says Dr. Phillips. Still, sunblocks made with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are your best bet. You can buy them in stores or online at coolibar.com. (Click on the sunscreen tab, then look for the link that will take you to "Sunscreen by Ingredient.")
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