Protect your skin from the sun

By Pamela A. Keene
Sunscreen. It’s the word at the top of the list when talking about summer skin care. But what sunscreen is best? How much SPF (sun protection factor) should it have? How long will it last on the shelf?
“Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or 35 provides the best protection without unnecessary chemicals, especially if it is a broad-spectrum product that is rated for UVA and UVA and protects from infrared rays as well,” says Carli Wakefield, aesthetic nurse with North Georgia Plastic Surgery’s Aesthetic Center of Gainesville. “Most sunscreens last in the container about 18 months to two years from the date on the product packaging.”
For the best protection, apply sunscreen every day first thing in the morning to any part of your skin that will be exposed to the sun. You can also wear Ultraviolet Protection Factor clothing to reduce your risk of exposure. It’s widely available in selections from swim suits and shirts to pants and hats, at many sporting goods retailers and online.
“Wearing a hat with a brim and sunglasses are both good ways to provide some protection from the sun,” she says. “And be aware that your cheeks can get a bit more sun reflected off the lenses of your sunglasses, so protect delicate skin.”
Carli recommends that you re-apply sunscreen at least every four hours or after swimming or exercise. “Use a liquid or cream, then retouch with a spray product is a good approach,” she says. “Using foundation with sunscreen in it may not provide strong enough protection, so be sure to apply sunscreen as well.”
Skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, is the most prevalent type of cancer. The organization’s website offers tips about how to stay healthy and reduce the risk of getting skin cancer. Those tips include eating right, staying active and not smoking.
“To keep your skin healthy and hydrated, use moisturizer morning and evening,” she says. “For daytime, find a moisturizer that has Vitamin C, which can help reduce the darkening of your skin’s pigmentation. Overnight it’s OK to use a moisturizer that contains retinols, but because it’s photosensitive, do not use a retinol product. It can damage skin.”
To help with hydration, drink plenty of water. The guideline is usually eight 8-ounce glasses a day. “It’s a way to hydrate from the inside out, and it will help you replace fluids that you lose through perspiration.”
What can you do if you already have sun-damaged skin? “Basic treatments, such as chemical peels or microderm abrasion can help alleviate the damage,” Carli says. “For more severe damage, consider laser resurfacing or micro-needling.”
She also suggests eating a healthy diet, avoiding refined sugars and processed foods, and staying active.
“No matter what your age, the sun is harsh on our skin,” Carli says. “Take precautions and be consistent. It will help you avoid further skin damage, fine lines and wrinkles.
North Georgia Plastic Surgery’s Aesthetic Center of Gainesville offers a full range of skin care services and products, as well as plastic surgery procedures by Board-Certified plastic surgeons, including cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
For more information, visit plasticsurgeryofgainesville.com or call 770- 766-9202.

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