Growing Old Gracefully....Take Care of Your Skin in the Sun!

When I was in my 20's I always thought about being in my 30's and 40's and thought "that is SO old!!".  I couldn't really fathom what my life would/could be like at those ages, and to be honest I was truly living in the moment and not thinking about aging too much.

My brother Brian and I.  I was in my early 20's
My brother Brian and I. I was in my early 20's

In my early 30's I gave birth to two little boys and most of my 30's was spent spent being married and raising these little boys.  Then the next thing I knew I was single, retired from the Navy and trying to figure out my next move. I have made MANY mistakes in my years, and some that I even wish I could have a re-do on, but one thing I have always been is resilient and I have ALWAYS had a Plan A, Plan B, and even a Plan C!

So before retirement I started looking for work, and landed a job with a Dermatologist in Hampton Roads within a month after my final Active Duty paycheck!

However, all of those years of sun worshiping at the beach, and working on flight decks, and having fun had taken its toll on my skin and I showed up with my melasma covered face, and in particular I had a melasma induced mustache I was NOT happy with.

While working for Dr. Quarles I learned about skin care, and started paying more attention to my skin.  I did not want to look like the little old ladies who are sun worshipers and have leather like skin. Too much sun is NOT our friend, and can make our skin leathery, not to mention give us skin cancer!!

NOT attractive...or healthy!!
NOT attractive...or healthy!!

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE to be at the beach, the pool, or just outside.  In fact I often comment that I am "solar powered", and need the sun to keep me happy.  However, I use my sunscreen and wear a hat to keep the sun off of my face!  The key to properly using sunscreen is to apply it 30 minutes before you go out into the sun, and reapply it every couple of hours.

I like to use a "sport" spray because you get great coverage and it isn't sticky.  SPF 30-45 is fine.  SPF 30 blocks 97% of harmful rays, and SPF 50 blocks about 98%. To be honest anything above SPF 50 is  really about marketing, because you think you are giving your skin more protection, but in reality you aren't.  Sometimes the higher SPF levels costs more, and we are conned into thinking we need a 70 for super light skin, or our kids.  Don't fall for the hype.  SPF 50 is FINE! Another downside to SPF higher than 50 is that since we think we are protected "more" we tend to not reapply the sunscreen as often.  This is a mistake.  Reapply every couple of hours, and even more frequently if you are in the water or sweating!

So what is UVA and UVB anyway?  The easiest way to explain it is this:  UVA means aging, and UVB means burning.  UVB is the main rays that cause skin cancer, and UVA are the ones that make your skin look like leather. So you always want UVA and UVB protection in your sun screen.

Now for those of you who deal with Melasma, (which I do as well), the best protection for you in order to keep your skin even toned and not looking splotchy is to wear sunscreen and if you are going to be out in the sun wear a hat, or visor.  Whatever you can do to keep the sun off of your face is what you need to do.

Melasma can occur at any age to any skin tone and any gender, but it primarily affects women over the age of 35.  It can be more obvious in those people with lighter skin tone, but darker toned people can also suffer from melasma.  There are lots of treatments for melasma, but in my opinion (after working for a noted dermatologist for 9 years) I feel that the best treatments are chemical peels (we use a salicylic acid peel) and microdermabrasions.  I have heard many people talk about laser, but that is a very expensive option, and the darker your skin tone the less powerful the laser can be in order to avoid permanent damage.  So medium and darker toned people have to be VERY careful with lasers. I  wear a visor whenever I am in the sun, and give myself a microdermabrasion every 6 weeks or so in the winter and once a month in the summer.

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