Sunscreen Best Practices from Expert Dermatologist

The numbers 1-10 PROVEN product(s) for preventing photoaging are SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN! Look for broad-spectrum sunscreens which protect against UVA, UVB and UVC radiation. Ingredients in these sunscreens include zinc and titanium dioxide. Modern formulations have micronized, or greatly reduced the particle size of, the zinc and titanium molecules, so that newer sunscreens are more lightweight and do not leave a white residue when applied to the skin.

Sun protection clothing, from brands such as Solumbra® are increasing in popularity, especially among the hiking, biking, competitive racing outdoor athletic crowd. Top clothing choices include workout-wear-type long or knee-length spandex-type pants, long sleeved zip or pullover shirts, gloves and wide-brimmed hats.

Of course, the most effective way to avoid sun or photodamage is by practicing a lifetime of STRICT sun avoidance. This can be accomplished by walking in the shade at all times, sitting under an umbrella or shade at all times while outdoors, and by scheduling outdoor workout times before sunrise or after sunset. It is possible for you to live a full, fun, healthy lifestyle outdoors while still protecting from sundamage, photoaging and skin cancer.

The most common error you can commit in using sunscreen is not re-applying it every half-hour while in the sun. Much of it sweats off rather quickly or washes off with vigorous swimming activity. An SPF of 30 is adequate if the sunscreen is reapplied every 30 minutes. Many experts also feel that sunscreen sprays provide uneven coverage-use only creams or lotions.

Protective clothing loses much of its SPF (Sun Protection Factor) when it gets wet and sometimes you remove protective clothing as you get heated from exercise. When exercising, bring a change of sun-protective clothing along in case these circumstances happen.

Most of the time you don’t realize that these are small lifestyle changes/choices you can make.

When you do not apply and RE-APPLY sunscreen frequently, work out without protective clothing and/or do not practice sun avoidance in your daily lives, your skin becomes sun-damaged, or photo-aged.

This photoaging can manifest as premature aging of the skin – dullness of the complexion, brown spots, wrinkling.  More severe sun damage causes accelerated loss of elasticity in the skin, leading to excess sagging loose skin. The worst consequence of not following strict sun protection rules is getting skin cancer, especially the most deadly form of skin cancer, called melanoma.

Every visit to the dermatologist should involve a short reminder about sun protection, so that these guidelines are reinforced frequently to those of all ages. Educating people from pre-school on is the best way to get them to comply with the sun protection guidelines outlined above. Especially important is to start teaching children about the skin-cancer-causing, dangerous consequences of tanning beds, before they are teenagers and less likely to head warning and more likely to engage in risky behavior.

If you complain about your aged skin, wrinkles, brown spots, or sagging, you need to follow the skin protection compliance tips outlined above. Your skin will get that way from sun exposure, but it is never too late to start strict sun protection to stop and even reverse some of your sun damage.

After getting anti-aging procedures (chemical peels, laser treatments, and neurotoxin injections) with your dermatologist the best way to “protect your investment” is to comply with sun avoidance. Getting a lot of sun exposure after a procedure will just cause your sundamage/photoaging to return more rapidly. So be sun smart and wear sunscreen, protective clothing, and get a lot less sun exposure!

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