Summer Skincare and Sun Protection 101

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Lesson 1: Sun Damage Is the #1 Cause of Aging

Your skin is a visible reminder of your age -- and any fine lines, crow's-feet, or discoloration that crops up as you age are directly related to sun exposure. It's hands-down the number one cause of aging, says dermatologist Marta Van Beek, MD, of the University of Iowa.

Quick Test: Want proof? Dermatologist Carl Washington, MD, the codirector of the Dermatological Surgical Unit at the Emory Clinic at Emory University, has an easy test. "I tell my patients to look at skin under their breast or under their armpit, and compare it to their face or shoulders. This unexposed skin is usually in great condition -- it shows that it really is the sun that is aging you," he says. "All of your skin is the same age. If it's altered by your diet or other environmental effects, that skin should be the same as the skin on your face or shoulders."

4 Easy-to-Damage "Hot Spots"

Take Note: Exposed skin on the face is easily the most at-risk area for sunburn, followed closely by the shoulders, hands, ears, and neck. If you want to maintain youthful, resilient, wrinkle-free skin, don't skimp! These areas need special daily attention from a bottle of sunscreen. And don't give up if you do see signs of age in these areas already -- instead, amp up your skincare regimen starting now. "It's a misquote that all your major skin damage is already done by the time you reach age 18," said Van Beek. "People live much longer now, and taking care of your skin at any age is never a lost cause. Start today."

Quick Test: How can you tell if you're had too much sun? Just press on the skin, says Marshall Brain, the founder of and author of "How Sunburn and Sun Tans Work." "The extra blood in the capillaries causes the redness," Brain says. "If you press on sunburned skin it will turn white and then return to red as the capillaries refill." If you see this happening, the damage is already done -- but you should still get out of the sun immediately. Avoid this in the future by becoming a sunscreen expert in Lesson 2.

Continued on page 3:  Lesson 2: Better Sunscreen Application


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