With summer season on the horizon, it’s time to consider the effects of the sun, and alternative ways to revitalize your skin, keep it hydrated and maintain a healthy look—after all, your skin is the largest and most visible organ you have.
Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause wrinkles, changes in skin pigmentation, and skin cancer. The ability of the sun to cause skin cancer is a well-known fact. The 3 main skin cancers are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer because it metastasizes more readily than the other skin cancers. It is believed that the amount of exposure of the skin to the sun before the age of 20 is the determining risk factor for melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer and tends to spread locally, not metastasize. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer, and it can metastasize, although not as commonly as melanoma. The risk of getting basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma is determined by a person’s lifetime exposure to UV radiation and his or her baseline skin color. In general, the lightest skin tones are more susceptible to the development of skin cancers because fewer pigment cells are available to protect the skin from the sun. It is therefore vital, not only for maintaining general skin health and a younger look, that you utilize an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen on a daily basis and reapply frequently when exercising or outdoors.
There are several tips to help minimize the effects of the sun on your skin as well as prepare your skin for the Summer months and in to the Fall:
Tip #1: Load up on sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher. Layering several products (face moisturizer, makeup, sunscreen- each with SPF) boosts sun protection.
Tip #2: If you want a tanned look, apply self-tanners, bronzers, or go for a spray tan. Avoid tanning beds (they may not burn, but their ultraviolet rays have been associated with skin cancer and- gasp!- wrinkles).
Tip #3: Stay out of the sun during midday hours (10 am to 2 pm), when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Tip #4: When in the sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face, ears and neck, a sleeved-shirt to cover your shoulders, and long pants.
Tip #5: If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.
Tip #6: Consider a chemical peel, fractionated laser skin resurfacing treatment, or microdermabrasion to give your skin a healthy glow. These treatments also reduce the risk of freckles or keratoses from turning darker over the summer due to inadvertent sun exposure.
Tip #7: If you have spider veins on your legs, it’s likely too late to have them treated in time for summer. Schedule your treatment in the Fall/Winter NOW for next summer!
Tip #8: Change your skin care to compensate for the extra humidity (eg, substitute lighter lotions/solutions/serums in place of heavy creams).
As is always the case, it is important to seek out an experienced practitioner for advice and treatment. Be safe in the Summer sun—it will benefit you for a lifetime.