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Be the best version of yourself
1250 South Tamiami Trail, Suite #302
Sarasota, Florida 34239
Tuesday, 18 January 2011 00:00

Question: I've been inundated with the sunscreen mantra by the media, but what else can I do to prevent aging of my face and neck?

Dr. Barbour’s Answer: The reason you can't seem to get away from hearing about sunscreen is because most of the aging changes in the skin are due to sun damage, not to mention even worse punishments like skin cancer. Let's get a few things out of the way about sunscreen and then I'll address some other ways to prevent aging of the face that you may never have known before.

Healthy skin is the very foundation of beauty. Your nose can be too big, your chin too small and your eyes unimpressive, but if the skin is smooth and luminous with health, you're going to look and feel really good. That makes you more self-confident and there's nothing as attractive as self-confidence!

There is a plethora of good sunscreens available, both chemical (containing, for instance parsol 1789 or mexoryl) and physical ( nonchemical, and containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide). Basically, the chemical screens work by absorbing the rays and the physical ones work by reflecting them back away from you. It is important to remember that if you're actually going to be in the sun for more than about thirty minutes reapplication is important. Also, it's better to pat it on rather than rubbing it in. We carry a sunscreen that I can't live without, called Reflect 30 Natural Sunscreen, by Cosmedix – it's titanium dioxide-based and mists on from a green-friendly mechanical aerosol spray. You mist it on, pat it a little, and it disappears. Two added benefits are that it also contains potent antioxidants and best of all, you can apply it right over your make-up and it absolutely doesn't disturb a thing! If anything, it makes the face look fresher and a little more as though it's being seen through a softer light. I think this sunscreen is the best thing since blueberry pancakes.

Now, other ways to avoid sun damage:

· Remember that those UVA rays come right through windows and while they won't tan you, they will silently destroy your skin. Be aware of this especially when you're driving. Every single day I see people in their cars with the sun on their faces and necks as it streams in from the side. Almost always, I can tell if a woman is usually the passenger or the driver because of the additional damage on the left side of the face.

· There are protective umbrellas available that will block about 98% of the sun's rays and there are some really cute hats with usually about a 55 SPF as well. If you absolutely can't deal with hat hair, the bumbershoot is the way to go. I have a great one from Coolibar that I love. Do I feel a little dorky? Not so much anymore, and hey, if everybody used one it would be the norm, wouldn't it? Believe me, the good skin is worth it and if someone wants to be cute and says, "Is it raining?" I just answer, "No, but it's sunning really hard". A plus, especially here in Florida, is that when you're using it, you're always walking in the shade so you stay cooler. And lastly, it of course protects your hair and especially the hair color you may have paid your hard earned pennies to have.

· Look for a make-up primer that has an SPF attached to it. The goal at my office is to get my patients' skin so gorgeous that they don't even want to wear foundation, except maybe a little mineral make-up powder down the center of the face. (However, having said that, those powders and indeed most foundation make-up will add to your sun protection). What is important to know is that a make-up primer can be used on its own and will just make your otherwise bare skin look more poreless and more as though it's being seen through a diffused light. We carry one called "Absence" by Jane Iredale that has an SPF of 20 right off the bat, even before the sunscreen goes on.

· Lastly, does all this sound like a pain in the neck? It's just about forming new habits and then waiting for the compliments. And for those of you under 35 years old, believe me when I tell you that 40 years from now, and that time will come, you will be soooo glad that you had the foresight to know that you will absolutely care about how you look then, that you can look gorgeous when you're older, and that the best cure is prevention. If you need proof about what I've just said, Google the 80 year old model, Carmen Del Orifice. What an inspiration she is!

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dr barbour

Oculofacial Plastic Surgeon,
Sarasota, Florida

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