HERE COMES THE SUN

Back in the Edwardian era of Downton Abbey, those with fair complexions went to great lengths to protect their skin from the sun. Pale, creamy skin, like that of the Crawley sisters, was a symbol of wealth, whereas a tan, leathery complexion was a demonstrable stigma of the laboring working class.

That all changed in 1923, the year fashion icon Coco Chanel was seen leaving the Duke of Wellington’s yacht with a deep suntan. Chanel inadvertently had gotten too much sun while cruising the French Riviera but the press assumed the influential designer was making a fashion statement. Her bronzed skin was deemed the new status symbol. Soon, women in Europe and America followed her lead, the suntan came into vogue … and the trend has never really faded.

While the sun provides warmth, light and life, it also can deliver blistering sunburns, premature aging and skin cancer. Studies show that as much as 80% of our facial aging is caused by our sun habits—not the passage of time—and that 90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. Yet, fewer than 33% of us routinely use sun protection.

So before you head off for that afternoon hike, baseball game or spring break travel adventure, use your sunblock! It’s never too early, or too late, to begin protecting yourself from the sun’s rays. When it comes to preventing premature aging and the threats to your health and appearance posed by the sun, the power is in your hands.

Advertisements

DID YOU KNOW … ONLY BEING “SUN CAUTIOUS” FROM 10 A.M. TO 2 P.M. ISN’T DOING YOUR SKIN ANY FAVORS?

The sun may be brighter, hotter and quicker to produce a painful sunburn from mid-morning to late afternoon, but that’s only half the story.

While skin-burning UVB rays are at their peak between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., UVA, or “aging,” rays of the sun are present from sun up to sun down and require protection all day long. These rays are so powerful that they can penetrate glass, some plastics and clothing, especially loose cotton weaves and wet fabrics.

To prevent sun damage and the signs of aging, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays every day. Apply it at least a half hour before you go out in the sun, so it has time to penetrate and completely dry on the surface of your skin. Because sunlight, sweat and water degrade the efficacy of sunscreen ingredients, it’s important to reapply every two hours to maintain the level of protection you need.

When it comes to sunscreen, less is not more, so apply it generously. One full ounce should be adequate to cover your entire body. If you’re not sure what an ounce looks like, visualize a shot glass. You will need a teaspoon to cover your entire face. A teaspoon is roughly equivalent to the size of a quarter. If you apply your sunscreen properly over your entire body, you personally should polish off a bottle during a weekend at the beach. While this may seem expensive, it’s an investment that will pay dividends for years to come.

If there’s one favor you owe your skin, it’s never to expose it unprotected to the sun. Sunscreen is the ultimate wrinkle cream. Slather it on and apply it often.

DID YOU KNOW … WHEN IT COMES TO SUN DAMAGE, ONE FACE CAN TELL TWO SIDES OF THE STORY?

While most people know that skipping sunscreen when lounging at the pool is a bad idea, few realize that incidental sun exposure, even on gloomy, cloudy days, can be more damaging to our skin. Whether sitting in an office with a window, com­muting on the freeway, or walking the dog, if we neglect to protect ourselves from daily sun damage, our skin and our health will pay the price.

UVA light in particular is responsible for photoaging because it causes damage to both the epidermis and the dermis. When UV rays from the sun or a tanning booth strike the skin, they initiate reactions, including inflammation, sunburn and pigment cell activation (also known as a sun tan). The UV rays also kill some cells and alter the DNA of others. Over time, with repeated exposure, collagen and elastin fibers break down, producing wrinkling and sagging. All of these reactions working in unison result in premature aging and the formation of precancers and skin cancers.

Take the cautionary case of 69-year-old Bill McElligott, who is seen in the above photo, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. During the 28 years McElligott spent driving a truck for a living, the UVA rays he received through the window of his vehicle severely damaged the skin on the left side of his face. As the photo shows, the left side of McElligott’s face looks decades older than the right side, which had been protected from being inside the truck, away from direct sunlight. McElligott’s doctors have now ordered him to use sunscreenand topical retinoids and to undergo monitoring for skin cancer.

Unfortunately, with fewer than 10,000 dermatologists in the United States serving more than 300 million people, most of us will never see a dermatologist. However, that shouldn’t make you powerless in the battle against the signs of sun aging. Following a daily skincare regimen can go a long way to reduce the signs of sun damage and make skin appear younger and more even-toned.

Regardless of gender, skin tone or ability to tan, we’re all under one sun. It’s never too late, or too early, to begin practicing safe sun so both sides of your face can be telling the same story … that of a healthier, younger-looking complexion.

5 EVENING RITUALS FOR A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

Getting restful sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. Research shows that when you are well rested, you think more clearly, have quicker reflexes and focus better. Sleep positively affects your immune system, energy level, heart health and mood. But with work and family demands, jam-packed schedules and so many shows to binge-watch, you may find it hard to wind down enough to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep you need a night. Here are five ways to help:

Shut off your devices. Completely power down your phone, laptop and tablet before you get in bed—and keep them off, even if you wake during the night. People who use devices before bed have poorer sleep than those who don’t, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The 52 million of us who fire off middle-of-the-night texts or emails fare even worse.

Tea up. Calming and comforting, caffeine-free herbal tea is an ideal bedtime beverage. A warm cup of chamomile, licorice root or mint tea may help encourage sleep and digestion and signal to your body that it’s time to start slowing down.

Stretch it out. In one study, participants with insomnia who practiced yoga daily fell asleep faster, slept longer and returned to sleep more quickly. Before bedtime, try some gentle poses, such as Legs Up the Wall, in which you lie on your back in an L shape with your legs forming a 90-degree angle against a wall; or Corpse Pose, in which you simply lie on your back on the floor and breathe slowly.

Take off the day. Ensure a fresh start tomorrow morning by washing away the day’s makeup, dirt and debris tonight. Cleanse your face with warm water, or hop in the shower to do all that and put your body into relaxation mode. Finish by pampering yourself with your skincare Regimen, and you’ll be ready to face the day (after a good night’s sleep, of course).

Make a list. Worrying about “incomplete future tasks” makes it difficult to fall asleep. Before you turn off your light each night, take five minutes to write down the tasks you want to accomplish the next day, or any other outstanding To-Do items. By doing so, you will (hopefully) fall asleep in a flash, and the elusive eight hours will be yours.

Do you have a go-to ritual that helps you wind down at night? Share it in the comments.

BY THE BOOK: PARADOX OF SUNSCREEN

Paradox of Sunscreen: A false sense of security in the sun that can really burn you

The phenomenon known as the “paradox of sunscreen” pertains specifically to UVA light. In spite of the wide­spread use of sunscreen over the past 30 years, photoaging and skin cancer rates have continued to rise. If sunscreens were effectively protecting us, this would not be the case.

The reason this phenomenon exists is the false sense of security people often get from using sunscreen. While a high-SPF sunscreen might prevent a UVB-induced sunburn, it doesn’t necessarily offer the same protection when it comes to UVA rays. So, thanks to a product with an SPF 30, you might have spent three to four times longer in the sun, believing you were protected. However, if your sunscreen blocked mainly UVB light and, to a much lesser extent, UVA light, you could easily have been exposed to three to four times more UVA light. Because UVA light is present in one-hundred-fold greater amounts in the environment than UVB light, the profound damage that is associated with UVA, such as premature aging and melanoma, has been on the rise.

Fortunately, new sunscreen rules are designed to address the paradox of sunscreen with a new efficacy testing for “broad-spectrum” label claims. As of December 2012, in order for a sunscreen to claim broad-spectrum activity, it must demonstrate effective UVA protection in proportion to its SPF claim. If a sunscreen does not pass the broad-spectrum test, it is required to bear a warning that reads, “Skin cancer/skin aging alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early aging.”

Keep in mind that even with the best SPF you still need to be sun smart. That means generously reapplying sunscreen throughout the day and seeking shade as often as you can when you are outdoors.

YOUR BEST FASHION ACCESSORY

Just like fashion, skin is forever changing. As your body’s largest organ, skin is constantly reacting to environmental factors and biologic changes, such as climate, lifestyle and age. But while fashions may fade, your skin needs to last a lifetime.

With every passing year, your skin functions a little bit differently. For example, in a young person, the epidermis completely renews itself every month. That’s why young skin always looks so fresh and rosy. But over time, skin cell turnover slows—so much so, that by the time you’re 40, it could take 50 days or more for skin to rejuvenate. You can compensate for this change by incorporating regular exfoliation into your routine, along with once-weekly macro-exfoliation, to assist the natural shedding process and reveal newer, fresher skin cells.

While aging is inevitable, it’s your daily behaviors that influence 80% of how you look at each birthday. Everything from sun exposure, smoking and alcohol to diet, stress and sleep plays a critical role in shaping the future of your skin. That’s why it’s important to complement your skincare routine with healthy habits like daily sun protection, sleeping on your back and wearing sunglasses.

In addition to your habits, external forces, such as temperature, wind, humidity and even altitude also can affect your skin and impact the efficacy of your skincare products. To look your best, you need to make sure you are constantly evaluating your environment and adapting your skincare routine accordingly.

Tune into Derm RF all month long for tips on how to take care of your best accessory—your skin—and make the perfect fashion statement … skin that looks young, healthy and luminous this season and every season to come. While your skin is always changing, the need for it to look great never goes out of style.

BY THE BOOK: CLASSIC SKINCARE

Products with clinically proven results that will keep skin looking young and healthy for a lifetime.

With every change of season comes new fashion, and we’ve all succumbed to that “look of the moment” skirt or dress … only to toss it into fashion purgatory after it is replaced by a new trend. Meanwhile, the tried-and-true classics in our closet, like the little black dress, remain the wardrobe staples we can always count on to help us look our best.

What most people don’t realize is, the same can be said about skincare. When it comes to creating lasting, natural-looking, real results, the best solutions often come, not from the latest skincare fad, but from clinically proven, time-tested ingredients with scientific discoveries that truly deliver. Think of ingredients, such as retinol, alpha-hydroxy acid, peptides, antioxidants and sunscreens, as the little black dress for your skin.

When shopping for skincare, look for classic products with clinically-proven results and success stories in the form of real-world “before and after” examples. While the “look of the moment” is here today, your best fashion accessory—your skin—needs to last for a lifetime.