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Prevention: Something New Under the Sun

A gentle reader recently admitted that he or she travels to faraway islands specifically to get tan. Despite all we know about the harmful effects of the sun, it is true, alas -- some of us still act against our own best interests when it comes to sun exposure.

The statistics tell a clear story. More and more lethal skin cancers like melanoma are diagnosed annually. These cancers have been linked directly to increased sun exposure. If that isn’t enough to dissuade someone from baking in the sun, the fact that 90% of peoples’ wrinkles are a result of cumulative/chronic sun exposure (rather than intrinsic aging) should be a disincentive.

I spend at least half of every day erasing the signs of sun damage on my patients’ skin (through laser skin resurfacing and chemical peels). That money would go so much further if it were spent on preventative maintenance procedures (e.g., skin care, including sunscreen).

Dr. T's Prescription:

 I recommend “double-duty” products - those that contain SPF and an active antiaging ingredient, such as an antioxidant or alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA). Some of my favorites: Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Teinte SPF 30, Neocutis Bio-Restorative Day Cream with PSP SPF 30+, Priori Daily Defense SPF 30 Advanced AHA. What’s nice is that you are protecting AND repairing your skin all at the same time (without smelling like you’re at the beach)!

Some may be confused by recent media reports that extensive sun exposure is necessary to prevent vitamin D deficiency. But only 10 minutes of sun exposure each day is necessary to produce sufficient levels of Vitamin D.

I should also point out that a growing number of states are prohibiting the use of tanning salons by minors (even with parental permission) because of the health risks. There is even a proposed “Tan Tax” being considered by Congress to offset the estimated rise in skin cancer costs as a consequence of tanning bed use.

In short: Don't do it! Far better to use a bronzing gel or make-up, or just learn to love the natural color of your skin! Trust me, you'll be glad for the rest of your life!

Photo by PrincessCy