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Aging


 

Skin Care and Aging

"Defy aging."
"Tone and firm sagging skin."
"Restore your skin's own wrinkle control."

Americans spend billions of dollars each year on skin care products that promise to erase wrinkles, lighten age spots, and eliminate itching, flaking, or redness. But the simplest and cheapest way to keep your skin healthy and young looking is to stay out of the sun.

Sunlight is a major cause of the skin changes we think of as aging ó changes such as wrinkles, dryness, and age spots. Your skin does change with age. For example, you sweat less, leading to increased dryness. As your skin ages, it becomes thinner and loses fat, so it looks less plump and smooth. Underlying structures ó veins and bones in particular ó become more prominent. Your skin can take longer to heal when injured.

You can delay these changes by staying out of the sun. Although nothing can completely undo sun damage, the skin sometimes can repair itself. So, itís never too late to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun.

Keep Your Skin Healthy

The best way to keep your skin healthy is to avoid sun exposure.

  • Stay out of the sun. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. This is when the sunís UV rays are strongest. Donít be fooled by cloudy skies. Harmful rays pass through clouds. UV radiation also can pass through water, so donít assume youíre safe if youíre in the water and feeling cool.

  • Use sunscreen. Sunscreens are rated in strength according to a sun protection factor (SPF), which ranges from 2 to 30 or higher. A higher number means longer protection. Buy products with an SPF number of 15 or higher. Also look for products whose label says: broad spectrum (meaning they protect against both types of harmful sun rays ó UVA and UVB) and water resistant (meaning they stay on your skin longer, even if you get wet or sweat a lot). Remember to reapply the lotion as needed.

  • Wear protective clothing. A hat with a wide brim shades your neck, ears, eyes, and head. Look for sunglasses with a label saying the glasses block 99 to 100 percent of the sunís rays. Wear loose, lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants or long skirts when in the sun.

  • Avoid artificial tanning. Donít use sunlamps and tanning beds, as well as tanning pills and tanning makeup. Tanning pills have a color additive that turns your skin orange after you take them. The FDA has approved this color additive for coloring foods but not for tanning the skin. The large amount of color additive in tanning pills may be harmful. Tanning make-up products are not suntan lotions and will not protect your skin from the sun.

  • Check your skin often. Look for changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, and spots. If you find any changes that worry you, see a doctor. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that older, fair-skinned people have a yearly skin check by a doctor as part of a regular physical exam.

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