Good news for Al Gore's disciples: The ozone layer, our natural UV filter, is beginning to repair itself. But that doesn't mean it's safe to go out with naked skin. Shield yourself from the evil rays by following this easy advice.
By Meirav Devash
1. BEACH-IFY Your Beauty Routine
- Start with a protective SPF 25 moisturizer.
"Mineral pigments create a shield on your skin to block UV rays," says Jeannette Graf, M.D., a dermatologist in Great Neck, New York. Try Jane Iredale Active Light Under-Eye Concealer, $25, beauty.com.
- Follow that with an SPF-spiked foundation such as Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals Tinted Mineral Veil SPF 25, $19, bareescentuals.com.
- Dust bronzer over cheeks, nose, and forehead.
- Then dab lips with sheer color.
- Mist hair with an SPF-packed styler.
Ultrastylish oversize sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement. They also shield the paper-thin skin around your eyes from dangerous UV damage (5 to 10 percent of all skin cancers appear on the eyelids) as well as the formation of fine lines and crow's-feet. More important, sun exposure can affect the eye itself (specifically the cornea, lens, and retina), causing cataracts and macular degeneration over time.
The American National Standards Institute requires that common outdoor-use sunglasses guard against 95 percent of UVB and 60 percent of UVA light (even drugstore cheapies!). "But why not find a pair with 100 percent protection of both?" asks Bryan Shelton, West Coast regional lab manager at Oakley R&D. He recommends wrapped lenses that also give peripheral protection, like those in Oakley's Perform Beautifully Line. Try Oakley Compulsive Brown Gradient, oakley.com.
3. Protect From the Inside Out
"Sun damage causes free radicals, which all edible antioxidants fight. But some work better at protecting against the sun's rays," says nutritionist Keri Glassman, R.D., whose book, The O2 Diet , is in stores now. Your best bites are reddish-orange foods that are high in lycopene, such as tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, apricots, and papayas, and foods and beverages that are rich in flavonoids, such as green tea and dark chocolate. But you'll need at least 10 weeks of daily ingestion to optimize the benefits.
In one study, researchers from the London University of the Arts and the European Dermatology London clinic gave 30 volunteers either high-or low-flavonol chocolate daily for 12 weeks. At the end of that period, it took double the amount of UV to turn the high-flavonol group's skin red. Many studies suggest the polyphenols in green tea provide a similar boost. "If people aren't getting enough of these antioxidants in their diet, I recommend adding a daily supplement," Glassman says. Try New Chapter Organics Green & White Tea Force, drugstore.com.
4. Sport SPF-Wear
Bikinis are de rigueur pool-and beachside, but they provide little sun protection. If you're going to be in the water, take a cue from the world's sexiest surfer girls and rock a rash guard. The fabric in Letarte rash guards has a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 50-plus, which blocks 98 percent of harmful UV rays.
The truth is, "all clothing has a sun protection factor," says Graf, but it's not enough to combat summer sun. "The lighter the clothing color, the less it shields." A white T-shirt has an SPF of 4 to 6, while a black one has a 9 or 10. However, all washables can have a UPF of 30: Just add a packet of SunGuard (sunguardsunprotection.com) to your laundry during the wash cycle. Pretty cool, huh?
5. Fake It -- Safely
Don't even think about heading to the fake-bake salon for easy head-to-toe bronzing -- derms around the world have deemed them unsafe!
6. Cover Every Inch Of Skin
Your boyfriend isn't the only one who wants to get you naked in the morning. Derms insist that a nude bod is the perfect canvas for sunscreen because you're less likely to miss a spot. Oft-overlooked areas include the hairline, behind the ears, lips, back of the neck, hands, and feet, so do those before the rest of your body.
When it comes to SPF, higher isn't always better. SPF 30 protects against more than 95 percent of UVB rays, as long as you're not stingy with the stuff. "Most women don't apply enough," says Syed Amiry, D.O., a cosmetic dermatologist in Reston, Virginia, and a spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation. Skin docs suggest using at least one ounce or more of broad-spectrum sunblock half an hour before going outside, and reapplying after swimming or excessive sweating.
Some Other Sun Protection Tips:
- Size matters when it comes to sunglasses.
- A glass of green tea a day helps keep wrinkles away.
- Cover Up: Reapply SPF every two to four hours.