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Week Three: Sun Protection Secrets

Written on May 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm , by

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, so we are going to feature weekly sets of sun protection secrets from Mona Gohara, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. Get set to up your sun smarts and stay safe all summer!
Day 15: The damage is not already done. Contrary to popular belief, 80 percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure is not acquired before age 18-only 23 percent of lifetime exposure occurs by age 18. Forty six percent occurs between the ages of 19 and 40.  It is never to late to fight those feisty free radicals which wreak cosmetic havoc and cause skin cancer.

Day 16: Like SPF, Moisturization is a must year-round. Keeping the skin well hydrated helps to decrease the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage. Take note of what special care your skin may need. For eczema prone, sensitive skin try Aveeno Nourishing 24-Hour Ultra Hydrating Whipped Soufflé, which contains colloidal oatmeal to soothe the skin. For rosacea, Eucerin Redness Relief helps to mask summer flushing. For acne-prone skin, Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer is light and effective. Always top these moisturizers with a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher every single day, 365 days a year.

Day 17: Eat to beat skin cancer. Antioxidants are the ultimate antidote to free radical damage. Fruits and veggies that fit the bill: kiwi, mulberries, blueberries, 
 blackberries, prunes, pomegranate, pink grapefruit, red grapes, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, beets and red bell pepper.

Day 18: Avoid summer sheen. Courtesy of sebum, the skin’s natural oil, many of us struggle with that not-so-fun glisten. This summer, let the sun do the shining and look for mattifying primers that have SPF too. (Studies show that unprotected skin can produce up to 26 percent more oil when exposed to UV rays than SPF-covered skin.)

Day 19: Sneaky sun spots. Sun damage rears its ugly head in many ways, but one of the most menacing is the seemingly out of the blue appearance of permanent brown sun spots (aka, lentigos). Lentigos almost inevitably darken and become more obvious over the summer. Diligent, daily sunscreen use and lightening creams with hydroquinone, soy, licorice root extract or other skin lighteners are the gold standard for treatment, but sometimes a quick fix with concealer is in order.

Day 20: Yoga benefits the mind, body, soul and skin. Stress creates muscle tension all over the body, especially the face. Tense 
facial muscles parlay into wrinkles, permanent lines and can increase the effects of sun damage. Training the body to diffuse tension with meditation techniques helps contracted facial muscles to relax. Plus, working out can help ward off cell damage head to toe, which is important for skin cancer prevention.

Day 21: Visible light can worsen melasma. Just when you thought you were safe from the sun, buried in your office, mired in deadlines and meetings. Enter  “need for daily sunscreen” reason 101. Recent data out of Henry Ford Medical Center Department of Dermatology, has indicated that melasma (darkening of the face from sun, pregnancy, or birth control pills) can indeed be worsened by the indoor visible light we are exposed to in the office, home, shopping malls, etc. Don’t panic, no need to slather on “greasy, coconutty” protection, instead channel cosmetically elegant make-up enriched with physical UV light blockers, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.