Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...and those of us holding the mascara wand.

After two decades of covering the beauty industry, I've come to learn what makes it so alluring. Finding the perfect shade of makeup to match your skin tone, adding a swipe of eyeliner to give your tired eyes a lift, discovering an innovative new product line, or indulging in a totally luxurious spa treatment. My experiences have been documented in magazines, newspapers and websites worldwide. I've tested newly formulated products in the lab, explored hair removal options, shopped for lipstick, added shine to my hair and succumbed to massage marathons--all in the name of beauty. I've written press releases, hosted makeover events and co-authored a Do-It-Yourself Beauty book (Alloy). On this blog, I write about products and services that I come across every day as well as those that have been provided by publicists or the companies that make them. Either way, I write what I think. I hope to share some of my insights--and bring you the latest, greatest beauty news right here. Join me in the quest to find all things pretty.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

expert advice: protect your skin from the sun, from dermatologist Dr. Neil Sadick

So you probably can't wait to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, right? Not so fast. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and there are some things you should know before exposing yourself to those harmful rays. Here, Dr. Neil Sadick, MD, FAACS, of Sadick Dermatology and Sadick Skincare, professor of dermatology at Cornell University Medical Center and the author of the new book Cosmeceutical Science in Clinical Practice, offers the five most important tips:

1. Abide by a new sunscreen law Sunscreen is the most important anti-aging product, says Sadick. And now, the way we buy it is about to change. The FDA is set to roll out a new star grading system stamped on the front of the bottle. Each product will be awarded 1 to 4 stars (4 being best), which rates how effective the product blocks or absorbs UVA rays—those stealth aging rays that cause damage below the skin’s surface. Additionally, the SPF rating, which measures UVB rays and how fast skin will burn, will remain on the bottles—that means you have 2 bits of important info to look for.However, no date has been determined for when the star rating system will start, though it’s likely to launch in 2011. That means, for now, your best bet is abide by the SPF rating and choose one labeled “broad spectrum,” which will battle both UVA and UVB rays, says Sadick.

2. Date your sunscreen. If not used within a year, the active ingredients (such as certain sunblockers and antioxidants) in many sunscreens can oxidize, rendering the product less effective. Make sure you label products with the date as soon as you buy. If, after a year, it’s still hanging out on your shelf, replace it.

3. Purchase a sunscreen containing antioxidants. Applying an antioxidant-packed sunscreen takes sun protection to the next level. When combined with sunscreen, antioxidants quench skin-damaging free radicals generated by UV rays and ease post-sun redness. Look for products containing powerhouse ingredients like vitamins C, E, coffee berry or pomegranate extract.

4. Use half the products in the AM. It’s easy to maximize potential protection before you step out the door—and, bonus, you can slash the number of products in your AM routine in half. UV rays, stress, pollution and other environmental aggressors team up to damage skin and cause wrinkles, which is why it’s important to apply protective products in the AM. In the morning, slather on a broad-spectrum sunscreen/antioxidant combo, and a moisturizer containing a detoxifying agent (look for ingredients like alpha longoza complex in the Dior Capture Totale product line).

5. Self-check your skin. Anyone can get skin cancer anywhere. That’s why we all need to routinely complete a full-body self-check, says Dr. Sadick. The ABCDE of Melanoma is a good guide to learn how to spot suspicious and potentially dangerous moles. When inspecting each mole, take into consideration these five points: A: Asymmetry B: Border C: Color D: Diameter E: Evolution. If any of these seem “off” (such as a mole is abnormally shaped), then it’s important to make an appointment with your dermatologist right away.

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