By Lisa Penza
The summer season is officially in full swing! Already forgotten are the shackles of our rainy spring, we’re now hitting the beaches, enjoying those backyard BBQ’s and soaking up as much sun as we can. After all, who doesn’t love a beautifully bronzed body in the summertime?
However, gone are the days of tanning oils and hours upon hours under the sun unprotected. Increasingly we are learning the effects of sun exposure, which range from advanced skin aging to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Melanoma, as described by the Skin Cancer Foundation, is a cancer of our skin’s pigment cells and is highly treatable if caught early. Always check yourself for abnormally shaped or colored moles and for any changes in preexisting ones. You can also find a dermatologist in your area offering free cancer screenings here: http://www.asds.net/skincancerscreening.aspx
Of course, we want to take this one step further and focus on prevention. Prevention includes both education on the matter and picking the right sunscreen to protect yourself. The sun emits three kinds of UV (ultraviolet) rays: UVA, UVB and UVC. The ozone layer takes care of UVC, so we need to protect ourselves from the former two. Simply, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and lead to early skin aging, while UVB rays affect mostly the top layers of skin and are what lead to burns. The danger of these rays is year round, especially UVB, and during the summer they are at their strongest. Check out the Skin Cancer Foundation for more info on these rays and the damage they can do.
So the question is, with all this in the atmosphere just waiting for us to step outside, how do we choose the best skin protection? According to board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Ariel Ostad, an appropriate sunscreen should contain titanium dioxide, vitamin E, niacin and micronized zinc oxide, and always an SPF of at least 30.
It’s time to start reading those ingredient labels! In years past, heading to the market and picking up the first one on the shelf would suffice. That may have worked for the girl on the bottle, but we’re here to provide you with a full arsenal to keep your skin in mint condition, even after a full day lounging on the beach.
The sunscreen aisle is full to the brim of products for every inch of your body, and it’s important to use several, not just one all over coverage. Skin varies and certain parts of the body need their own attention. For your extra sensitive lips, try Rodan + Fields ESSENTIALS Lip Shield SPF 25. This lip shield is smooth and creamy, and moisturizes while it protects. I love this little stick, which goes on easily like a lip balm, and is pleasantly scented with a hint of honeysuckle and citrus (when applying something under the nose, smell can make or break it!). For your eye area, also typically under protected (who hasn’t had an accidental under eye burn?), use Shiseido Sun Protection Eye Cream SPF 32. Shiseido sun care products offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays, by preventing absorption and deflecting the sun’s rays. The beauty of this cream is it goes on very light and smooth, an important point to note in such a sensitive area.
Let’s not forget the rest of the face! Clarins Sunscreen for Face: Wrinkle Control Cream SPF 50+ offers both protection and prevention of early skin aging and wrinkles from sun exposure. It also leaves the skin feeling smooth and moisturized, and we can’t get enough moisture this summer! Shiseido’s Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 35 for face and body hydrates and absorbs into the skin quickly, which is key during these hot, sweaty months. All those who hate sweating off their sunscreen say yeah! On a tight budget? Neutrogena offers face and body protection in Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Sunblock SPF 50 with PureScreen which is lightweight and unscented, .
Summer is a time of red skin, but not all of it is from burn. For those of you with sensitive skin, Dermalogica UltraCalming System Redness Relief SPF 20 offers sun protection and conceals the skin’s red discoloration. This cream also addresses the underlying causes of the redness, so it’s working while you’re wearing it to relieve your sensitive skin.
Sunscreen isn’t just for those days we are planning to hit the beach; we need to be diligent in its use every day. Some days we are rushing out the door and may not have time to apply the cream to every inch of exposed skin. This is where I’ve found spray sunscreens come in handy. Clarins Sunscreen Care Milk-Lotion Spray SPF 50+ is a God-send, going on easy and feeling silky smooth. MDSolarSciences No Touch Body Spray SPF 40 is clear and dries in seconds – you don’t even have to work it in, just spray and go. As important as our own skin health is, let’s not forget the kids. Neutrogena offers a spray sunscreen in its Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool. Just a quick spray on an active child, and then send them off into the sun.
As a novice marathon runner who’s just started training, I was excited to learn about athlete-specific sunscreens. MDSolarSciences Ultra-Sport Stick SPF 40 is a fabulous little stick sunscreen. Water and sweat resistant, the stick makes application quick and easy before that morning run. Mission Athletecare No Sting SPF 30+ Face Stick, a favorite of soccer player Mia Hamm, promises not to sting the eyes and shields against UVA and UVB rays. Mission Athletecare also has an Ultra Sweat-Proof SPF 30+ lotion, which goes on dry and is oil free, so no clogged pores.
The beauty of this new age of information is that the availability of these preventative measures is plentiful. With so many different types of sunscreen, it’s easy to find the ones that fit your lifestyle. It’s important to apply sunscreen daily, even if you don’t plan to spend the day outdoors, and remember to look for the ingredients mentioned above. Luckily, the FDA is streamlining this process to take away some of the stress of finding the best protection. Next year, you’ll see sunscreens boasting that they are ‘broad spectrum’ (in that they protect against UVA and UVB rays) and there will be more specifications on how waterproof or sweat proof a sunscreen is. MDSolarSciences is already compliant with these new regulations, and we will see other brands follow suit soon.
So feel free to soak up the sun this summer, just leave those UV rays at the beach.