Denise Crew/Fitness MagazineBy Krista Bennett DeMaio
How you apply sunscreen, the lifestyle choices you make, and even the foods you eat can determine how well your skin stands up to UV rays. To help boost your protection and reduce your risk of sunburn, wrinkles, and skin cancer, try these derm-approved moves.
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Go for a Morning Run
The early bird gets the worm -- and possibly a reduced risk for skin cancer, according to a study from the University of North Carolina. Based on preliminary findings, scientists believe that a protein responsible for DNA repair is more active in the a.m., which may mean that morning sun is far less likely to damage your skin. But this isn't an excuse to ditch the SPF: "Rays are strong enough to burn your skin even at dawn," says Jeanine Downie, MD, a dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey.
Account for Glare
If you think you can skip the sunscreen just because you're sitting under an umbrella, think again. "Wearing a hat or using an umbrella is better than no protection, but UV reflection can still cause damage," says Bruce Katz, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. At the beach, the sand reflects 15 percent of UV light, water throws off up to 10 percent, and sea foam bounces back 25 percent. Bottom line: Wear sunscreen, even if you're under cover.
Double Up on Certain Spots
A shot glass's worth of sunscreen is enough to cover your whole body, but derms say you might want to add a second coat to your nose, lips, hands, and ears and the tops of your feet -- areas that tend to burn. "You won't be doubling the protection, but you may actually get the SPF listed on the bottle with two coats," says Ava Shamban, MD, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills. (Studies have shown that of those people who use sunblock, most apply only half the recommended amount.)
Practice Damage Control
Keeping skin safe goes beyond shielding it during daylight. The effects of just 10 minutes of unprotected sun can last up to 72 hours, says Eric Bernstein, MD, a dermatologic surgeon in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. "When the sun hits the skin, it rearranges the collagen and elastin, triggering inflammation for days," he says. To speed up repair, Dr. Bernstein suggests a nighttime regimen that includes antioxidants, such as vitamin E, to reduce inflammation, and peptides to help the skin heal itself. And go ahead, indulge in dessert: Dark chocolate is full of bioflavonoid antioxidants, which shield skin from free radical damage caused by UV rays, says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. And its effects are cumulative. "Several ounces a week, along with regular SPF use, should provide continuous protection," he says.
Related: Quiz: What's Your Skin Cancer Risk?
Denise Crew/Fitness MagazineTop Sunblocks
Regular sunscreen use in sunny environments can reduce your risk of melanoma by 50 percent. Our SPF picks:
1. Every Day: Aveeno Positively Ageless Correcting Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 ($20, drugstores) fights lines with vitamin C and gives you coverage without feeling like a mask.
2. Sensitive Skin: Banana Boat Sunscreen Natural Reflect Lotion SPF 50+ ($11, drugstores) guards even delicate complexions with zinc oxide.
3. Oily Skin: With its nongreasy formula, L'Oréal Paris Sublime Sun Liquid Sunshield for Face SPF 50+ ($11, drugstores) pairs broad-spectrum protection with antioxidant vitamin E.
4. On the Go: Portable, water-resistant Sun Bum Pro SPF 30+ Face Stick Premium Endurance Sunscreen ($15, trustthebum.com) is perfect for tricky areas like eyelids, lips, and ears.
5. Outdoor Exercisers: Easy-to-use Coppertone Sport Pro Series Clear Continuous Spray Sunscreen with DuraFlex SPF 50+ ($11, drugstores) feels smooth, not sticky, and doesn't run even when you do.
6. Dry Skin: Vichy Capital Soleil Luxurious Protective Oil Sunscreen SPF 30 ($29, vichyusa.com) hydrates parched areas for a head-to-toe glow.
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