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Protecting the skin you’re in

by Alli Ross and Deidra Garcia

Taking good care of your skin now
will give you great looking skin well into the future.
Summer is approaching and thousands of people will be working on their tans before they whip out their shorts and swimsuits. However, improper skin care can cause permanent damage from the sun’s rays. Regardless of your skin type, it is very important to protect your skin. Here are some key tips to keep in mind this summer.

Choose an appropriate sunscreen.
If you’ve been to the store lately, you’ve probably seen a complete aisle full of sun block products. It’s often hard to know which one to buy. Look for one that protects against UVA and UVB rays. (UVB rays are actually more harmful for sunburning than UVA rays). It’s crucial that your sunscreen protects against both of these sun rays. Don’t waste your time with half the protection.

What about the SPF?
The SPF number simply tells people how much longer they can last out in the sun without being burned. The higher the SPF number, the longer your skin is protected against the sun.
For example, lets say you put on a sunscreen with SPF 20. This would protect your skin up to 20 times longer than your average amount of protection time. To find out how long your sunscreen will protect your skin multiply how long it normally takes you to burn times the SPF of your sunscreen. So, if you normally burn after 30 minutes in the sun and you have sunscreen with an SPF 15, your skin would be protected for 450 minutes — or seven-and-one-half hours.
It’s also important to consider skin types when choosing the proper sunscreen.

For young children (six months and up): Choose a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher to protect against both suntanning and burning. Look for a product that offers UVA and UVB protection. This is known as the “broad-spectrum.”

For Very Fair Skin: This type of skin burns quickly. Look for a sunscreen containing SPF 20 to 30.

For Fair Skin: This type of skin burns fairly easily but some tanning occurs. Look for sunscreen products containing SPF 8 to 12.

For Medium Skin: This type of skin yields a moderate brown shade when exposed to the sun. Look for sunscreen products containing SPF 4 to 8.

For Dark Skin: This type of skin rarely burns. Look for sunscreen products containing SPF 2 to 4.

Exfoliating
Regularly exfoliating your skin removes the outer layer of dead cells and allows you to achieve a more even tan. However, this also causes your skin to burn more easily, so don’t scrub yourself right before tanning.

Mind the lips
Lips can chap as easily from sunburn as from exposure to cold and dry air, so make sure to use a lip protection with an SPF of 15 or higher.

Apply ahead of time
Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go out into the sun to allow the skin time to absorb it. After a half an hour outside, it should be applied again for maximum protection. Most sunscreens only last about two hours, so make sure to apply it regularly, especially if swimming or sweating heavily. Even “waterproof” brands lose their potency after an hour in the water.

Sand and water reflect
Sand and water can reflect up to 90 percent of the sun’s rays, so give your skin extra protection when at the beach. A stronger SPF is also recommended for higher altitudes, since the air is thinner and sun exposure more intense.

Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to sensitive areas like the tops of your feet, backs of your ears and neck, and areas of the scalp and hairline if your hair is thin or thinning.

Taking good care of your skin now will give you great looking skin well into the future. Your skin is your number one defense mechanism against the environmental elements. Exercise, rest, and good nutrition are the foundation for beautiful, healthy skin.

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