LET THE SUN SHINE - HELLO! Canada - July 27 2009
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LET THE SUN SHINE - HELLO! Canada - July 27 2009


Starlets like Madonna and Kate Winslet shun the sun to maintain their youthful-looking skin. But when summer roles around for us sun-starved Canadians, chances are we’re going to soak in a few rays at the cottage, on a patio or at the beach. So now is a great time to brush up on your sun smarts.

Our faces get the most direct exposure to damaging UVA rays (which cause damage on the cellular level) and UVB rays (those responsible for sunburn). In fact, almost 90 per cent of the visible signs of aging, including wrinkles and brown spots, can be attributed to sun exposure, so it’s essential to wear the right broad-spectrum sun protection to ward off damage.

Thanks to improved formulas and updated textures, sunscreen is easier to apply than ever. “Clear spray sunblocks with an SPF of 30 are effective, light, invisible and have great staying power,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto-based cosmetic dermatologist. “They work for all skin types, from normal to oily and prone to breakouts.”

The best way to apply a spray is to douse a cotton pad in the formula and evenly smooth it over your face so that don’t accidentally spray it in your eyes. “Most people are not applying enough,” says Dr. Kellett. “The actual SPF testing is performed using a thickness of sunscreen that is much thicker than what we typically use,” she continues. To be safe, use a quarter-size amount for your whole face and neck. And don’t forget about layering an SPF on you lips as well – they are the most sensitive area on your face. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, limit your use of products that contain retinol and glycolic acid, as they can increase your sensitivity to the sun.

When shielding your body, you need at least a full palm of sunscreen lotion to properly cover the whole area. It’s best to apply it at least 15 minutes before you head outdoors – this way you’re fully protected the moment you step outside. And be through. The most commonly missed spots are the back of the neck, tips of the ears and calves,” says Dr. Kellett. If you have a spot that’s hard to reach, ask a friend for help or cover up with clothing. Remember that even if you plan to seek out shade, you still need to wear sunscreen, as UV rays can penetrate shady spots. Reapply at least once every two hours, or more if you are swimming or perspiring.

Even the most diligent sunscreen user can sometimes miss a spot and end up with a burn. If skin is inflamed, get relief by applying a cold compress or an after-sun lotion that contains anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as aloe. Steer clear of taking hot showers or baths, along with fragrance-heavy products and those with aggressive active ingredients like glycolic acid or retinol – these can all lead to further inflammation. If you do get a severe burn (that blisters, for instance), consult a dermatologist. “There are prescription topical medications we can prescribe to drastically reduce the effects of a sunburn,” says Dr. Kellett.

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