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May is Melanoma

May is Melanoma awareness month – the perennial proclamation of summer’s imminent arrival when the sun rides high in the sky – meaning also, that it is time for our annual conversation about sun protection. 

As much as we welcome the warm sun of summer, the fact is 80- 90% of all visible signs of aging (wrinkles, sagging, pigmentation) are all manifestations of excessive sun exposure. Now is the time for aggressive protective measures!

Look for a product that is labeled Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection. UVB rays are what we’re most familiar with because they cause sunburn. UVA rays are not visible on the surface of the skin but they cause premature aging by attacking the collagen underneath the skin (collagen is the support system for our skin). Both UV spectrums are responsible for the development of skin cancers.

So how do you choose the right protection? SPF (Sun Protection Factor) provides guidance into the level of protection that each product offers but SPF numbers can be confusing. You should use a minimum of 30 but there is really no need to go higher than 50. In fact, it only offers a false sense of security using a higher number. The increase in protection is offset by the amount of elevated chemical exposure. The key is RE-APPLICATION! Re-apply sunscreen every 30 to 50 minutes while exposed or while in the water.

There are two types of sun protection - Physical Blockers and Chemical Sunscreens.

Physical Blockers are made from minerals that reflect the rays off the surface of the skin. Active mineral ingredients such as Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide are found in Sun Blocks. This type is essential for heat-induced skin conditions such as Rosacea and Melasma. Chemical sunscreens are contain organic compounds, which create a chemical reaction and work by changing the rays into heat, and then release the heat from the skin. Some compounds found in chemical sunscreens are Octinoxate, Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, and Octisalate.

RULE OF THUMB: From the décolleté up, use a high quality medical grade sun protection that contains other beneficial anti-aging ingredients. On the rest of your body, use a high quality sun protection that is better suited for application over large areas of coverage.

One last comment: during the summer, the sun is high in the sky and your skin is susceptible to sun damage even on cloudy days.

 ENJOY the warm weather and remember to ALWAYS use your Sun Protection!

-Joanie, LE