6 FACIAL MASKS TO SAVE YOUR SKIN
6 Little Ways to Save Your Skin This Summer
By now, most of us know the basics of SPF. And if you've ever read a magazine story about melanoma or been to a dermatologist's office, you probably know a bit about how to tell cancerous spots from regular old moles. (Need a quick refresher? See redbookmag.com/moles.) Still, women ages 15 to 39 are two-and-a-half times more likely to develop melanoma than they were in the 1970s, and non-melanoma skin cancer remains the most common cancer among women today. So what are we doing wrong? Take a look at the skin mistakes on the next few pages and be honest with yourself about which onesyou'remaking. All it takes is a few tweaks to your routine to stay safe, healthy, and worry-free.
Protecting everyone else first.You plan to put on sunscreen at the beach, just as soon as you've lugged the chairs to the perfect spot, set up an umbrella, lathered up your kids, and passed the lotion to your guy. But that's not soon enough! Spending just 15 minutes in midday sun can cause sunburn, which damages your skin's DNA and can lead to cancer.
A better strategy:Do like they tell you to with airplane oxygen masks and see toyoursafety first by applying sunscreen in the bathroom — naked — before you leave the house. That will give it time to bind to your skin (it takes 15 to 30 minutes) and guarantee that you'll actually get it done. Rubbing on block in the buff means "you're less likely to miss areas around the edge of your clothes," which frequently get burned, says Allan Halpern, M.D., chief of dermatology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Once you're outdoors, add a little more. "Using sunscreen is like applying paint or nail polish: the first coat never quite does it," he says.
Believing everything we read on labels.No "8-hour" sunscreen really lasts that long, in Halpern's opinion. He says that companies test products in less-than-realistic conditions — using more lotion than the average person would (you need an ounce to cover your body, but we tend to use one quarter of that), or not accounting for sweating or swimming.
A better strategy:No matter what the label says, reapply, especially after dips and dry-offs. And try to get out of the sun during peak hours. For beach days, we like Coppertone Oil Free Foaming Sunscreen Lotion SPF 75+ (.99, drugstores) and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 30 (.99, neutrogena.com) .
Worrying about sunscreen only at the beach or pool.The most common place for women to get potentially deadly melanoma? Not the arms or shoulders — it's the lower legs, in part because we wear skirts and shorts without sunscreen. To size up your skin damage, strip down and look in the mirror. If your chest or legs look more wrinkled or freckled than your breasts or butt (assuming you don't sunbathe nude), then "you're not doing a good job of protecting yourself," says Bradenton, FL, dermatologist Susan Weinkle, M.D.
A better strategy:Shield yourself every day with light lotions that provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays. But choose wisely, says Steven Wang, M.D., director of dermatology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, NJ. Wang and his colleagues examined 29 daily moisturizers with SPF and found that very few of them blocked damaging UVA rays. Look for lotions that contain zinc oxide or a combination of avobenzone and octocrylene and have an SPF of at least 30, he says. For body, we like Lubriderm Advanced Therapy SPF 30 Lotion Moisturizer with Sunscreen (.99, drugstores) or Ahava Mineral Sun Protection Suncare Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 50 (, ulta.com). For face, try Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 (, drugstores) or Eucerin Everyday Protection Face Lotion SPF 30 (.99, drugstores).
Thinking we look younger and skinnier when we're tan.If you love the way you look with a tan, it's tough for anyone (especially a pasty dermatologist!) to change your mind. But there are safer ways to get that glow. "Anytime your skin changes color from UV exposure, it's a sign of skin and DNA damage, which can ultimately lead to cancer," says Vernon Sondak, M.D., a surgical oncologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. Getting a "base tan" at a salon is no better than baking on the beach — in fact, research suggests it may be worse: The UVA light that tanning beds emit penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB light, the kind that causes natural sunburn. Women who use tanning salons even occasionally (and about one in five of you do) are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.
A better strategy:You know the answer to this one: self-tanner. Weinkle, who admits to liking a bit of a glow herself, swears by L'Oréal Paris's Self-Tanning Towelettes (.49, drugstores). "They give you an even color, without looking streaky or orange," she says. If wipes aren't your thing, try Comodynes Hydra Tanning Moisturizing Tanning Lotion (.99, comodynes.net).
Not wearing sunglasses when wereallyneed them.Most people wear shades during peak sun hours — between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. But at those times, the sun is directly above you, so your eyebrows actually provide shade. In the morning and late afternoon, however, the sun is low in the sky, so it hits your eyes more directly, Wang says. UV light raises your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and eyelid cancer, which accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all skin cancers.
A better strategy:Wear sunglasses whenever you're in the sun, and choose shades that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays (it'll say so on the label) — the larger the frame, the better. Take pairs you already own to an optician, who can measure how much radiation they block.
Blowing off skin checks.About 95 percent of basal and squamous cell carcinomas are curable when treated early, as are 99 percent of melanomas. "But far too few women are seeing dermatologists regularly for skin checks," says Albert M. Lefkovits, M.D., associate clinical professor of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you get a skin check once a year. As smart as you may be about checking yourself out, nothing compares to trained professionals — and their high-tech scopes — going over you head to toe.
A better strategy:Schedule your skin check when you're setting up your other annual appointments, such as the ob/gyn or dentist, so you don't forget.
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