Protecting your skin while not staying in

Advocates discuss safeguards to limit exposure to sun’s rays

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Coloradans love to tout the state’s sunshine with the warmth and mood boost it provides, but the sun’s rays also are something to be reckoned with, especially as we get into the swing of summer.

Skin-care experts and doctors say the two biggest issues are preventing skin cancer and implementing anti-aging measures, especially since the sun’s ultraviolet light can be so damaging.

“A healthy dose of sunlight is really good for our bodies because our bodies make vitamin D,” said Brooke Sarmiento, founder and creator of Bee-Och skin-care products based in Fort Lupton. “(Sunlight) boosts mood, helps boost immunity and can ward off infections.”

However, too much sunlight is not a good thing, the experts said, noting that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, and more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States than all other cancers combined.

In addition, sun can damage skin, causing it to age prematurely. Ultraviolet rays penetrate into the skin, damaging the elastic fibers that keep skin firm and accelerating production of the pigment melatonin, allowing wrinkles to develop and age spots to appear.

Neither is good for skin, which is the body’s largest organ, and both are mostly preventable.

Skin cancer

The Skin Cancer Foundation and the Colorado Melanoma Foundation preach constantly about the benefits of sunscreen every day, not just when you are planning a day in the sun. Even better, wear a hat and clothing to keep skin from sun exposure or stay out of the sun as much as possible, especially during the hottest part of the day.

Not all sunscreens are created equal, the experts say, and it’s important for people to follow the directions.

The Skin Cancer Foundation offers a seal of recommendation on sunscreens and other skin-care products that have an SPF — which stands for sun protection factor — of at least 15. SPF is a calculation of the difference between how quickly the skin will burn in the sun without the product and with the product. The higher the number, the longer the skin is protected.

There are two types of sunscreens: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens use ultraviolet light-filtering chemicals while mineral sunscreens usually are powders that provide a physical barrier to the sun, Sarmiento explained.

Anti-aging

It’s important to take care of your skin and to educate yourself about the products you use, said Jennifer Morris of the Littleton area, who sells Beautycounter products.

“Just because it’s on the shelf (in the store) doesn’t mean that it’s good for you,” Sarmiento added.

Skin-care advocates suggest learning about the products’ ingredients because not all lotions, soaps and sunscreens are created equal.

A skin-care routine that includes washing your face nightly and moisturizing daily is a must, they said, agreeing that moisturizers whose first ingredient is water is probably not the best.

“I’m huge on waterless products,” Sarmiento said, noting that the moisturizers she has created use essential oils that absorb into the skin. “Oil-based products provide longer hydration because it’s not just water and alcohols.”

Morris and Sarmiento suggested staying away from products with fragrances because most are chemically created rather than created from natural sources.

A healthy respect for the sun — both its positive and its negative attributes — is a must during the summer to make the most of the Colorado outdoors.

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