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How To Prevent Premature Aging of Your Skin

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Sunburn, caused by a type of ultraviolet (UV) light known as UVB, is a contributor to serious conditions like melanoma, basal and squamous cell carcinoma, three forms of skin cancer. Spending a day at the beach or poolside are not the only times you need to protect your skin from UV rays though (and more wrinkles!).

Tanning beds give off ultraviolet (UVA) rays, which cause both tanning and premature aging of the skin. Despite their popularity, tanning beds are not a safer way to tan. They may also be an important factor in the development of skin cancers. Regular or excessive use of tanning beds can accelerate the aging process of your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Most sunscreens do a good job blocking UVB, but fewer sunscreens filter out most of the UVA, so they do not help to prevent the beginnings of melanoma formation.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sunscreens are an important part of a person’s total sun protection strategy. However, sunscreen alone will not prevent all of the possible harmful effects due to sun exposure. Borrowing the “Slip, Slop, Slap” slogan from an Australian skin cancer prevention campaign, the American Cancer Society recommends that anyone out in the sun slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. The longer wavelengths of UVB and UVA pass right through the atmosphere, even on a cloudy day, which is why you can still get sunburned.

For maximum sun protection:

  • Lavishly apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, and reapply it every two hours according to the directions on the label.
  • Reapply sunscreen as needed after swimming, sweating or towel drying. And use sunscreen even on cloudy days.
  • Avoid the sun during the middle of the day, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, when the atmosphere absorbs less of the harmful UV rays than sunlight than earlier or later in the day.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, protective clothing, and sunglasses.
  • Never leave children exposed to the sun without adequate protection. Because of the long period of time required for cancer to develop, studies suggest that over-exposure early in life may lead to skin cancers later in life.

Smoking

Smoking can accelerate the normal aging process of your skin, contributing to the formation of wrinkles. These skin changes are irreversible and may occur after only 10 years of smoking.

How does this happen? Smoking leads to wrinkles by causing the blood vessels in the outermost layers of your skin to become narrower. This impairs blood flow to your skin, depleting it of oxygen and important nutrients, such as vitamin A. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin – fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity. As a result, skin begins to sag and wrinkle prematurely.

Smoking can cause more than just wrinkles on your face. A 2007 study found that smoking is associated with increased wrinkling and skin damage on other parts of the body, including the internal arms. It also discovered that repeated exposure to the heat from burning cigarettes and the facial expressions you make when smoking – such as pursuing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke – may contribute to wrinkles. Just one more good reason to quit smoking …

Cleansing Your Skin

Do not wash your skin too often because it will deplete the natural oils and moisture. Washing your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser as well as double cleansing with an oil cleanser at night is sufficient. Gently remove your eye makeup before washing your face. Do not use harsh soaps or hot water. Use lukewarm water on your face and pat your skin dry rather than rubbing it. For extra-deep cleansing, use an exfoliant or a cleansing mask weekly. If your skin is sensitive, you may only want to use it monthly.

After cleaning, use a toner or a skin firming product and then apply a moisturizer. Use a light, easily absorbed moisturizer during the day and apply a heavier moisturizer at night. Apart from a toner and the essential moisturizer, you should use anti-aging serums or ampoules specifically designed to lighten age spots, protect the tender skin under the eyes, treat dry lips, and manage acne and blemishes. Everyone’s skin is unique, so you may need to try several different products before you find those ones work best for you. There are some excellent products specifically for mature skin.

Whatever cleansing, moisturizing, or problem-solving Korean skincare products you use, if you forget your sunscreen, it is all a waste of money and effort. Skin has no greater enemy than the sun – protect it from those harmful rays. Use a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15, and slap it on summer and winter, on sunny days and under heavy cloud cover. Do not forget to put sunscreen on your lips, too.

Great Korean broad spectrum sunscreens include Missha All Around Safe Block Essence Sun Milk and Etude House Daily Sunprise.

by Kimberly Christensen

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