SUN PROTECTION 101
No matter where you are and what the
season, you need adequate protection
from the sun to prevent premature
aging and skin cancer. Experts recommend wearing a sun product that
blocks both UVA and UVB radiation
Should you choose a sunscreen or
a sunblock? “Sunscreens are chemi-
cals that filter the sun’s penetration
into the skin,” says Angela Sturm-
O’Brien, MD, a facial plastic surgeon
in Houston. “They are often thin,
colorless and block UVB rays and
sometimes UVA. Sunblocks physically
block the sun’s ultraviolet radiation
into the skin so they’re better at preventing sun damage, skin
cancer and aging changes.”
Sunblocks often contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and
give broad coverage against both UVA and UVB light, but they
have a more opaque appearance. “Products that are a combi-
nation of sunblock and sunscreen are great because you get the
benefits of each—broad coverage with a smooth texture,” says
Sturm-O’Brien. Look for an SPF rating of at least 30.
If you’re headed for a sunny climate, carry on a wide-brimmed
hat. “A big hat shields the entire upper body from sun damage,”
says Baxt. Seek shade or sit under an umbrella and try to avoid
the peak UV hours of 10 to 4. Consider sun-protective clothing
if you’re planning to be where the sun is particularly strong,
such as Hawaii or Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
If you’re healthy on the inside, your skin will show it. A diet
that emphasizes vegetables, fruits and whole grains yields big
In particular, focus on foods that are loaded with vitamins A
and C, suggests Keri Glassman, founder of nutritiouslife.com.
These powerful antioxidants help protect the skin from the
damage associated with free radicals and inflammation.
“Vitamin C also helps promote collagen production,” she says.
Good choices for both nutrients include cantaloupe and other
melons, grapefruit, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, carrots,
squash and pumpkin.
Rich sources of omega- 3 fats—such as salmon, mackerel
and other fatty fish, as well as walnuts and flaxseed—also
deserve a place on the menu. These foods fight inflammation
that can lead to breakouts. Choose whole grains like brown
rice and oats for plenty of B-complex vitamins, which help
keep the skin hydrated; and fiber, which helps rid the body of
toxins that can affect the skin, Glassman says.
Oysters may not sound like a skin-friendly food. However,
“they contain dietary zinc, which plays an important
role in the growth and function of skin cells,” says Sanjiv
Saini, MD, a cosmetic surgeon at
MD Dermatology in Lexington and
Edgewater, Maryland. “Some recent
studies have shown that people who
suffer from acne have low zinc levels.”
Most experts agree that foods are
the best source of healthful nutrients.
“But supplements can help when
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someone is having a hard time meeting
their needs or as backup insurance,”
Glassman says. “For instance, taking
fish oil is a good idea for people who
don’t eat fish, and biotin or vitamin
B complex can help if you notice that
your hair, skin or nails are dry.”
You can top off your meal guilt-
free with dark chocolate. “Cocoa
hydrates your skin, making it more firm and adding a
healthy glow,” Saini says. “For maximum results, choose
chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao. Eating a few
squares a day can improve your skin’s appearance.”
Diet and lifestyle habits can help your skin glow at any age.
But you may need additional assistance to diminish the fine
lines, wrinkles and discoloration associated with getting older.
The same antioxidants in foods that help your skin from
the inside can be applied topically to reduce the evidence of
aging on the outside. “Antioxidants not only protect your
skin from sun damage, they also repair damaged tissues,”
says Sturm-O’Brien. For instance, “vitamins C and E, which
are often found in moisturizers and cleansers, reverse the
effects of sun damage,” says Agi.
Although products with antioxidants also help lighten
discolored skin, if you have large or particularly dark spots,
ask your doctor about a prescription for hydroquinone. Also
look for antioxidants such as vitamin A, selenium and lutein
in creams and cleansers.
The experts also recommend moisturizers containing gly-
colic acid or retinol, which stimulate skin turnover. “These
ingredients can improve pigmentation as well as skin texture
and sun damage,” says Sturm-O’Brien.
Retinols are among the most powerful tools in the anti-aging arsenal. “But the effects don’t happen overnight,” Agi
cautions. “Be patient. It can take weeks to see changes.” Both
retinols and glycolic acid also make your skin more sensitive to
the sun, so be sure to use a sunscreen or sunblock.
Using products that combine useful ingredients doesn’t
just make it easier to take your skin-care regimen on the
road, it makes maintenance simpler at home, too. “I love to
consolidate steps with combination products,” says Sturm-O’Brien. “An antioxidant moisturizer or a retinol with
sunscreen can keep your skin radiant without filling your
bathroom with bottles and tubes.” [
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