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Skin Care Musts in the Fall & Winter

Even though the sun may not feel as warm in the fall, UV rays do not end at Labor Day. Sun protection and nurturing skin is no longer a regimen solely for summertime. In fact, doctors warn that cooler months are more dangerous because the sunshine of summer, that serves as a reminder to reach for sunscreen, is gone. So, here’s your nudge to take care of skin as fall gets into full swing. No matter how cool the temperature feels, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can still cause damage to the DNA in our skin within just a few minutes. While UVB rays (burning rays) lessen as the earth rotates away from the sun, UVA rays (aging rays) remain strong with the same intensity year-round. UVA rays powerfully beam through office windows, car windows, clouds, and fog. And UV damage to our DNA is cumulative. Here are some tips for fall and winter skincare and sun protection:

Do Not Stop Wearing Sunscreen

Use broad-spectrum sunscreen daily on all exposed skin, neck, ears, back of hands and your face daily. In locations where snow flies, UV rays reflect off glistening surfaces like snow, and in warmer locations, UV rays bounce off grass, sand, water, and cement back at your face. Be proactive and protect your face daily with an excellent sunscreen of SPF 30 or more. In fact, dermatologists explain the use of sunscreen, when it starts to really cool down, as a “must”. For women, consider using sunscreen as a base layer before applying cosmetics. Many mineral-based sunscreens are moisturizing and protecting at the same time. Apply, rub vigorously so they are fully absorbed, then apply any cosmetics. For men, apply a mineral-based sunscreen as a daily moisturizer and keep a tube handy in the car for reapplications. Don’t stop at your face, cover your neck, chest, and tops of hands.

Use an SPF Lip Balm

Most people are unaware that lips do not contain melanin, our skin’s natural defense against ultraviolet radiation. Lips are particularly vulnerable year-round, but in months when the air is drier, they are also susceptible to drying and cracking.

Consider Cosmetics with Built-in SPF

According to Paula’s Choice Skincare, after a layer of broad-spectrum SPF 30, women can use a makeup primer of SPF 20 and a foundation with SPF 15. While the layers of protection don’t aggregate and add up to SPF 65, the layering approach has the benefit of better overall coverage of sunscreen. In general, most people do not apply sunscreen thickly enough. By layering these products one upon the other, this technique provides a “thicker” layer of protection against sun damage.

Reconsider Your Cleanser

When humidity drops in cooler weather, you may want to compensate by switching up your cleanser to a moisturizing cleanser. Look for hydrating ingredients that don’t strip your skin of moisture. Or, if you love your skincare program and don’t want to risk skin irritation by trying a new cleanser or moisturizer, there are ways to keep your routine and just boost it for the winter.

Moisturize Nightly

Follow nightly cleansing with a moisturizer made for nighttime. The right nighttime moisturizer will help protect against the red chafed skin in winter and help nourish your skin. If you have sensitive skin, or you’ve experienced reactions to various products, we recommend you meet with your dermatologist. They can evaluate your skin health and offer suggestions on a regimen for sensitive skin that won’t cause irritation before switching.

Wear UPF 50+ Clothing in the Car

UPF 50+ sun sleeves or sun gloves are ideal for days driving. UVA rays (aging rays) penetrate car windows and office windows. The Skin Cancer Foundation cites nearly 53 percent of skin cancers in the U.S. occur on the left, or the side receiving rays while driving. UVA rays are hitting your skin on a road trip, while running errands or driving kids to soccer. In fact, they are reaching your kids too. The Skin Cancer Foundation says clothing is the first line of defense against the sun. Having UPF 50+ clothing in the car or at the office – coverage for arms, hands, necks, and chests, like a long sleeve hoodie or wrap, a neck bandana, sun sleeves and sun gloves – make sun protection effortless. The more you’re covered, the more you’re protected.

Keep the Sun Off Your Face with a UPF 50+ Hat

UV rays impact the tops of heads as much as any other exposed part of our bodies. So, while you’re out walking the dog to keep her healthy, wear a hat with at least a 3” brim and apply SPF 30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen to other exposed areas.

When seasons change, people forget there’s still sun and sun damage. Get fall-winter ready and stay sun safe with tips above. It’s also an ideal time to check in with your dermatologist and get their recommendations for cool weather skincare.

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Experts Say

Are You Still at Risk of Skin Cancer During the Winter?

With the warmer weather behind us, it must be time to put away the SPF and your favorite UPF 50+ clothing, right? Not so fast. Your skin needs protection during the entire year (yes, even during the very cold winter months) in order to prevent damage to your skin from UVA and UVB rays that can lead to skin cancer.

You might think that skin cancer will never happen to you because it only happens to people who use tanning beds or get sunburns frequently and badly. Skin cancer happens more often than you would think. All sun exposure poses a risk to your skin even during the winter months. In fact, about 86 percent of melanomas and 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. In addition, the sun’s UV rays are also responsible for 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging including wrinkles, leathery skin and brown spots.

People can forget that snow plays a part in how effective UVA and UVB rays are when they hit your skin. Snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. It’s a lot! As a result, the same rays can reach the skin twice. Additionally, up to 80 percent of UV rays burn right through the clouds. Be aware that the sun can still be strong on those cloudy days when the sun reflects off the snow.

Skiers and snowboarders are at an even greater risk, as these sports take place at a higher altitude, where the thinner atmosphere absorbs less UV radiation. Sun exposure increases four to five percent with every 1,000 feet above sea level. Both snow and strong wind can wear away sunscreen and reduce its effectiveness, so you have to take extra precautions.

Treat your skin like you would if you were going to the beach on a bright sunny day. Wear your UPF 50+ clothing, wear sunscreen, re-apply often and protect your eyes.

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SunAWARE Wellness Warriors

Keeping My Family Sun Safe

Quiana and Nia Agbai

by Quiana Agbai, Blogger, Harlem Lovebirds

We’ve been hit with brutal snowstorms this winter where I live in the Northeastern U.S., and while we tend to bundle up to protect ourselves from the elements an important area is often forgotten in the winter, especially by African-Americans: the skin.Nia Agbai stays sun safe

In my previous Coolibar blog post, I shared how a diagnosis of discoid lupus years ago has increased my vigilance regarding sun safety. However, I have to admit while I do an excellent job slathering on sunscreen, wearing sun-safe clothing and putting on my sunglasses in the summer it’s much harder to follow through in the colder months. With a 3- year-old daughter and a baby on the way, it’s important to me to set a good example for my family in regard to sun safety, and I’ve found three key tips to help me do this:Quiana Agbai makeup tips

Find products that multi-task – from the latest BB cream, lip balm and hair crème, there are so many dual function products. And who really has time for layering on serums, sunscreen, then foundation? I’ve found it best to find products that have both the coverage and moisture my skin craves along with the recommended sunscreen dosage. As an African-American, I especially like the blended products because the “sheer” sunscreens alone tend to still show up on darker skin. However the coverage make-up with sunscreen added in blend much better.Nia Agbai wearing sunglasses

Keep your sun-safe accessories accessible – getting out the door on time is a challenge each morning, and rather than fumble around I find it’s helpful to keep everything in a logical place. Sounds so easy to do but you’d be surprised how many mornings I still run around to find that particular pair of sunglasses – including my daughter’s Christmas glasses she insists on wearing well into the New Year – or a missing glove. I keep my own items in the same to-go bag each morning and find that rather than cluttering our narrow entryway with extra baskets or containers, good old fashioned pockets are helpful. I can put my daughter’s items right in her pockets including her SPF lip balm which she applies right before we head out the door each morning, and she knows it’s part of her sun-safe routine!

Make it a game – this is especially true for my husband who, like most men, loves a bit of competition! Rather than inundate him with frightening facts, I make an aging game out of it comparing our laugh lines, forehead wrinkles and emerging eye creases while doing our morning routine. I jokingly do a tally of “who has more.” Of course, while we can’t literally count our lines, it has spurred him to make sunscreen a part of his regular routine. Despite an inherent SPF factor of 13.4 for African-American skin vs. 3.4 for white skin, the Skin Cancer Foundation says that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. with disproportionately high mortality rates in darker-skinned people.

With these three tips in mind, it’s a simple way to include my entire family in sticking to a sun-safe routine. I’ve had family members affected by cancer and while awareness has definitely increased, I’m enthusiastic about setting an example within my community – especially when we as African-Americans often think we’re immune from sun-safety recommendations due to our increased melanin. Join me and Coolibar as we continue on our sun-safe path!

Quiana Agbai blogs about young family life in metro-NYC, entrepreneurship and how to balance it all while having fun. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, she is a 2002 graduate of Wellesley College. After eight years in advertising and media, she decided to pursue her passion of family life and owning her own business. She can be reached at www.harlemlovebirds.com.

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