Keep an eye on the UV Index
"We've grown up in a culture that worships the sun, and our skin has paid the price. It's hard to place an exact figure on the percentage of wrinkling caused by sun damage, but it would certainly be significant," explains Sydney dermatologist Dr Jo-Ann See. She suggests checking the daily UV index. "This gives an indication of the risk of [UV radiation], whatever the temperature or visible sunlight. If the index is three or above, it's vital to wear sunscreen. Many of us think we only need to wear sunscreen in the summer, but in Sydney, for example, the UV index can rate three or above for nine months of the year." For more, visit www.bom.gov.au/announcements/uv/#whatis.
Say No to Solariums
With their potential to deliver up to five times more UV radiation than the midday summer sun, avoiding solariums altogether will limit your risk of skin cancer and prevent premature ageing. "Solariums are just not worth the risks," stresses Craig Sinclair, chair of The Cancer Council Australia's skin cancer committee. "The dangers they pose in terms of skin cancers cannot be ignored, but if you need further persuasion, think of the risks they pose in terms of photo damage to your skin." Photo damage is the initial damage to the skin caused by UV light and it ages you. Think fine wrinkling, brown patches, roughness and sallowness of the skin.
Become a Shady Lady
"Sunglasses are more than just a fashion accessory, they are vital when it comes to protecting your eyes and the delicate skin around the eye socket from UV exposure," advises Sinclair. "Make sure your sunglasses meet with the Australian Standard and are also marked Eye Protection Factor (EPF) 10." A close-fitting pair of sunnies will help protect against crow's-feet and delay the ageing process. "You only have to look at smooth-skinned European or Asian women, who haven't been as exposed to the same harsh sunlight we have, to see that many Australian women simply look older," reveals Dr See.
Apply Sunscreen Regularly
"I make a habit of using sunscreen daily," adds Dr See. "A lot of dermatologists do the same. I either use a moisturiser containing at least an SPF 30, or I mix a high-SPF sunscreen with my moisturiser. I then put my make-up on or I simply moisturise with sunscreen." Dr See says the latest trend in the US is the addition of anti-oxidants to sunscreens to help minimise the ageing effects of sun damage. "Sunscreens will increasingly become more like beauty products, which may help them appear more attractive to users," she says.
...And Don't Miss a Spot
Sun damage is common on the backs of the hands and the décolletage, as most people forget to apply sunscreen to these areas. "You only have to look at the skin under the chin, on the insides of your arms or your inner thighs to see what your shaded, undamaged skin should look like," says Sinclair. "Ideally, all Australians should make the application of sunscreen to every exposed area a daily habit. The backs of the hands are particularly vulnerable to sun damage because we rarely remember to apply sunscreen here, they're constantly exposed to sunlight and the skin is delicate and thin. Apply SPF 30+ to your hands, neck, chest and the soles of your feet if you are at the beach or by the pool and they're exposed to sunlight."
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