Sun Protection Tips For Anti-Aging

We spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on creams and lotions in an attempt to reverse the signs of aging.  We get nipped and tucked and injected to smooth out wrinkles and fade dark spots.  Yet the most effective tool to fight signs of aging is completely painless, free, and accessible to all of us: SUN PROTECTION!

It's easy to ignore the consequences the sun has on the health and appearance of our skin, especially in a culture that glamorizes being tan.  But here is some hard proof that there is nothing glamorous or glowing about being in the sun:



Photo courtesy of the New England Journal of Medicine

Photo courtesy of the New England Journal of Medicine

69-year old Bill McElligott was a truck driver for 28-years and it shows.  UVA rays, which which have a longer wavelength than their UVB counterparts, penetrate glass and reach deep into the dermal layer causing most of the signs we associate with aging.  In Bill's case, this lesson was learned too late and he is now left to deal with the consequences of long-term sun exposure including sagging, wrinkles, and a high risk of skin cancer.  Here are some tips to reduce sun damage and protect your skin starting today:

-APPLY SUNSCREEN.  Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF30 and apply 30 minutes before exposure to the sun.  Reapply at least every 2 hours or directly after physical activity like swimming or sweating.  Also, remember that UV rays reflect off of water, concrete, snow, and even sand, and penetrate fog and water so wear sunscreen all year long regardless of the weather or season.

-WEAR SUNGLASSES.  Choose wraparound sunglasses with a wide lens that fit close to your face to prevent UV rays from entering through the sides.  Also, how dark the lenses are has nothing to do with how protective they are so make sure to check that they protect from both UVA and UVB rays.

-CHOOSE PROTECTIVE CLOTHING.  Dark, tightly-weaved clothing provides better UV protection than loosely weaved, light clothing.  Some clothing is even manufactured now to provide broad spectrum sun protection.

-WEAR A HAT.  Choose a wide brimmed hat with dark, tightly woven material. 

-LIMIT SUN EXPOSURE DURING PEAK HOURS.   The sun's rays are generally strongest between the hours of 10am-4pm depending on the season.  Try to plan outdoor activities for the early morning or evening.

-TINT YOUR CAR WINDOWS.  Although the glass windows in our cars shield us from cold, wind, and rain, they do not protect us from the damaging effects of the sun and Bill McElligott is proof.  Tinting your car windows can cut down significantly on the amount of UV rays penetrating your skin.