September 7, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Goodbye Summer

Or How to Avoid Skin Cancer

While I was walking from the car yesterday, I saw a girl from my ward who was wearing her swimsuit. I could tell that she had been wearing it for a long time because of the dark red colour covering all of her revealed skin. Not only is that not appealing or comfortable but it is also dangerous. As we age, our skin takes a lot of abuse. Whether you notice it or not, it is almost constantly exposed to the sun. The sunlight damages and ages the appearance of your skin and can make someone in their 30s or 40s appear much older than they actually are if they are not careful.

To avoid this, I have gotten into the habit of using sun block, not just when I am going to be spending a long time outside or in the pool, but whenever I see blue sky. Each morning, I look out the window and if I see blue I know it’s time to apply sun block. Even when it’s cold and especially when the ground is covered in snow (snow reflects the light enough to give passers by a sunburn).

While I usually apply the sun lotion to whatever skin will be showing that day, if I need to be fast I go for two key places. My face, especially my cheeks and nose, and the backs of my hands. We all know that skin on your hands can reveal age even if your face does not, and when you drive, ride a bike or use your hands outside, they often stay propped directly in the sun. A little sunscreen can save your hands from early aging.

Recently, renewed effort has been made to study sun lotions and the ingredients used to make them. These studies, released by the Environmental Working Group suggest that (1) the SPF numbers listed on the bottles are not accurate, (2) the chemicals in many sun lotions cause hormone problems, (3) no expiration dates are listed on sun lotion containers and (4) the Vitamin A found in some sun lotions actually speeds the aging of skin. While the Personal Care Products Council says that these ideas are both hyped up and incorrect, it is worth keeping both sides of the story in your mind when choosing a sun lotion. The EWG provides a list of safe alternatives to the popular commercial sun lotions, on their website. I personally have switched to Burt’s Bees sunscreen. Mostly because I don’t trust government groups that put chemicals in our drinking water and keep lead in our cosmetics…but I suppose it’s up to you to decide.

The point is, wear whatever sun lotion you wear on a very regular basis and you won’t be sorry in twenty years.


Both sides of the sunscreen debate:




Jon said...

I've been struck by how people living in Utah seem to age so much more than here in the Northwest.
I think sun exposure is probably the culprit. Of course, based on the same evidence I guess I'd have to say sun exposure leads to early baldness, so I guess I will concede that "correlation is not causation".

Lynnae said...

I believe that dad's comment is a not so veiled slam at my high school reunion.
I believe I look better with a tan- my natural skin tone is so Beyond white that its almost green. To avoid looking sick I mix a little sunless tanner in my moisturizer. Sun does lead to premature wrinkles. That is obvious. However, I will point out that sun is a good source of vitamin D and you should get some sunlight every day, or else you'd better load up on the D3 vitamin. There are some theories linking lack of sun exposure to the high incidents of MS in the Northwest. I think there is a lot of wiggle room between a little sun exposure and baking in the sun for an hour.

Alice X said...

I'm as pale as ghost, my nickname used to be Casper lol I used to envy people with tans and would always smother myself in fake tan. Now i'm 22 i don't care as much, i'm proud of my skin tone i think it looks classier than orange fake tan or burnt skin. Besides the fashion Gods have spoken and pale skin is back for the Autumn. For me it's not worth risking looking like an old wrinkly tea bag in later years.

Alice X