As you relax by the pool, you don’t want to worry about the damage you may be causing your skin. Exposure to UV rays results in wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and, potentially, skin cancer. That’s why it’s so important to understand your options for summer skin protection.

Sunscreens are the crucial ingredient to enjoying a safe summer in the sun. To make sure you’re protecting your skin most effectively, always look for products labeled ‘broad spectrum’ to protect from both UVA and UVB rays, advises Avani Nayak of Avani Day Spa. “There are a lot of new formulations that are much more sheer than in the past and feel very light, non-greasy and non-chalky on the skin,” she says. “They are still very effective.”

It may seem like a time-saving proposition to use a dual-purpose moisturizer/sunscreen, but this does not provide the best overall protection, says Valerie Moll, lead esthetician at The Lifestyle Center Medical Cosmetic and Laser Center. “When a product has a dual purpose, such as moisturizer/sunblock, the chemicals interact and weaken the effectiveness of the sunblock,” Moll says. “We always suggest using separate moisturizer and sunblock for the best outcome of both products.”

Skin that already is sun-damaged may be treated to help mitigate some of the obvious effects, such as brown spots and wrinkling. “Sun-damaged skin responds well to microdermabrasion, and results can be quite dramatic,” notes Dora Peters of dpEsthetics Skin and Wellness Studio. “The upper layer of skin is gently wiped away, and the pores are cleared of debris that can exacerbate premature aging. Not only will you feel refreshed, but your skin will feel cleaner and more rejuvenated. This procedure requires absolutely no downtime and can be repeated as often as twice monthly until your skin-care goals are reached.”

Peters also recommends LED (light emitting diode) therapy to treat hyperpigmentation and stimulate collagen formation, and gentle chemical peels to remove the outermost layer of skin cells and reveal fresher, more youthful skin.

However, the experts agree that protection is critical, and it goes beyond a dab of sunscreen before you go out. “People should know that simply applying sunscreen does not offer complete protection from the sun,” Nayak says. “We advise that you limit your daily sun exposure by avoiding the midday sun from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., reapply sunscreen every two hours, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use antioxidants.” She recommends a daily topical antioxidant serum for the face to help minimize premature aging caused by the sun.

“Skin cancer is one of the most deadly, yet most preventable forms of cancer,” Moll adds. “Every sunburn increases your chance at getting skin cancer. Be sure to check expiration dates on your sunblock and reapply often, not only to prevent cancer, but to maintain youthful skin.”

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