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Keep Your Skin Safe From The Sun!

Updated on February 25, 2010

Is your skin ready for the season of swimsuits, shorts and sleeveless shirts? Or is it dry and scaly? Feet callused? Elbows like elephant hide? Legs a roadmap of spider veins? Hair sprouting where it shouldn't?

Don't despair. Although summer traditionally has meant fun in the sun, experts today warn against unprotected exposure as leading to cancer and premature aging.

First and absolutely the thing that comes to mind is to get on a sunscreen, at least an SPF 15, on a daily basis to anything that's exposed, especially the face and hands. The key word is daily. This is not just a spring thing. It's an all-year thing.

Most sun damage is cumulative, not something you get from tanning but from things like talking to your neighbor at the mailbox. Year-round cancer-causing UVA rays can even penetrate window glass.

Although makeup may contain sunscreen, skin care experts say the degree of protection is questionable. Everyone applies makeup differently, and makeup doesn't penetrate the skin. Better to use a moisturizer with sunscreen or a sunscreen beneath makeup.

Sunblock should be applied 20 to 30 minutes before going  outside so it can be absorbed. It is also recommended to start wearing a hat with a 4-inch brim protective clothing, sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection and planning activities that are not in the middle of the midday sun.

People of all races need sunblock. Only the very darkest African-Americans and Asians have natural protection, but they too need lip balm with sunblock for unprotected lower lips.

Another key to preparing your skin for summer is to take it off, literally. Skin can become very dull, dry and dehydrated especially in colder climates. But whether you live in Florida or Minnesota, one thing that is correct for both is mild exfoliation and hydration. Try a loofah or sea sponge and body scrub to remove old, dead surface skin. Products with alpha hydroxy acids are recommended. Use a specific product for the face, or consider getting a facial.

And while it's important to increase water intake when perspiring more in warm weather, experts say moisturizers are best for hydration and should be applied while the skin is still damp.

More Skin Fixers

Callused feet, Exfoliating products can help. You should also try soaking your feet in bath salts to soften calluses, using a pumice stone, followed by foot cream or lotion and, finally, a foot massage which is wonderful for the circulation of people who sit a lot.

Rough knees and elbows, Try using a loofah and an exfoliating product, followed by heavy-duty moisturizers.

Body hair, Shave in the direction of hair growth to avoid ingrown hairs. Alternatives are waxing, electrolysis and laser hair removal. Waxing is cheapest, but lasts just a few weeks. For example while a bikini wax may cost $25, laser hair removal costs $300 but may last two to three months. Waxing is fine for those who don't suffer irritation or want a small area treated. Electrolysis can cause scarring but may be effective for small areas.

Spider veins, Lasers are being used, but larger vein problems are better treated first. Talk to your dermatologist.


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