Long summer days are filled with opportunities to make fun memories – often in the sun. Along with those wonderful memories, significant sun damage can linger too. A good skin care regimen and safe sun habits can keep your skin healthy and gorgeous.

The single best thing you can do for your skin is protect it from excessive sun exposure. A daily sun block of at least SPF 15 is recommended and a minimum SPF of 30 for outdoor activities. Not all sun blocks are created equal. Those containing zinc or titanium offer the best protection from UVB and UVA rays. Look for a concentration of at least 5% zinc or 2 % titanium. Apply sun block 15 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapply frequently if sweating or in the water.

Sun protective clothing provides a consistent SPF 50 that does not wash off and can give you and your family worry free sun protection. Seek shade and wear a broad brimmed hat and try to avoid sun exposure during the peak hours of the day – 10 am to 2 pm. Sun blocks purchased at a physician’s office are significantly more protective than most in stores. Examples of great sun blocks available over the counter include Blue Lizard and Sun Smart.

Topical antioxidants protect your skin from damage from free oxygen radicals that are generated by exposure to the sun. Choose only antioxidants from a skin professional’s office as over the counter versions may not have stable levels of antioxidant and may not penetrate the skin well. Daily use will result in an enhanced antioxidant level in the skin that consistently prevents oxidative damage to your collagen – the main support structure of your skin. Topical antioxidants include Vitamins C and E, green tea, red tea, coffee berry, phloretin, ferulic acid, zinc and others.

In addition to causing oxidative damage to the skin, sun exposure activates enzymes in the skin that breakdown collagen. Repeat sun exposure leads to significant loss of collagen with loss of skin elasticity and wrinkle formation. Retinoids or retinols have long been known for their anti-aging properties but many people stop using them in the summer. The summer is the best time to use a retinoid (tretinoin) or retinol as these substances prevent the collagen breakdown that occurs after even minimal sun exposure. Consistent use of a retinoid will lead to smoother, healthier skin as well as long term preservation of age-defying collagen.

Enjoy the fun-filled days of summer but act now to prevent sun damage and keep your skin healthy, vibrant and youthful!

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