6 Ways to Prevent And Treat Sun Damage

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As good as it may feel, basking in the sun is one of the worst things for your skin. Not only can harmful UV rays cause cancer, but they can also accelerate the aging of your skin, meaning more wrinkles, lines and brown spots. So despite how great you look with a tan, should pale really be the new pretty? Here, top experts weigh in.

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The Skin Brightener

This fast-absorbing, brightening serum works to intensively diminish skin discolorations and correct texture irregularities caused by the sun to reveal a more radiant, even-toned complexion. Laneige Bright Renew Original Serum, $45, target.com

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The Post-Sun Soother

Cool sunburned skin with this instant redness-reducing balm that features chamomile, cucumber and lavender, as well as Japanese alder extract, which attacks free radicals and helps repair the signs of sun damage. Dermalogica After Sun Repair, $32, dermalogica.com

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The Multipurpose Spray

Protect your face, body and hair with this
lightweight, water-resistant spray that defends against the sun’s rays while delivering skin-care benefits such as potent antioxidants that guard skin cells from damage. Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Spray SPF 50+, $36, shiseido.com

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The Lip Preserver 

Chock-full of grapeseed antioxidants, this moisturizing lip treatment not only leaves your lips feeling supersoft, but also includes SPF to protect them from sun damage that can lead to lip lines. 29 by Lydia Mondavi Wine Blot Lip Balm SPF 20, $10, target.com

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The 411 on SPF

When choosing your daily sun protectant, Las Vegas dermatologist Alison Tam, MD suggests using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 95 percent of the sun’s rays. “Higher number SPFs block slightly more rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of them. Even if you use an SPF of 50, you still need to reapply it nearly every two hours.” If you aren’t properly protected, damage can show up right away as sunburn, which may result in permanent freckles. “Other signs of damage can be wrinkles, brown spots and a loss of elasticity, which can take years to show up.” She recommends looking for sun-care products made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, both of which provide the skin with a natural shield from the sun’s UVA/UVB rays. 

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A Cutting-Edge Way to Treat Skin Cancer

Although forms of photodynamic therapy (PDT) have been around for more than a century, the treatment is now quickly becoming a popular request in doctors’ offices for many reasons. “Not only has it been well demonstrated to treat skin cancer and precancerous growths, but it also treats sunspots, brown spots and skin aging, as well as acne,” says New York dermatologist Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, MD. The treatment involves first applying a photosensitizing substance to a damaged area of skin. “Then, a specific wavelength of light is used to activate the substance, which works to penetrate the skin and destroy abnormal cells. Some patients only need one session; others may need as many as six depending on what we are treating.”

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