Don’t let clients pack away the sunblock with swimsuits and other summer accessories. Winter’s sun is just as dangerous as summer’s according to Adam J. Scheiner, M.D., an eyelid and facial cosmetic surgeon. “The snow reflects the glare of the sun—and the damaging UV rays,” he says. “People who like skiing and snowboarding in the mountains are getting 4 to 5 percent more UV damage for every 1,000 feet they ascend above sea level.”
Those who stay away from snow sports aren’t in the clear either, as they embark on holiday cruises and escapes to warm-weather climates where beaches are packed year-round. “It’s not okay to lie baking in the sun for hours, even if it’s just one week out of the winter,” says Scheiner. No matter how comfortable or cool the temperature feels, don’t be fooled! “Earlier this year, the surgeon general predicted 9,000 people will die from melanoma this year. That’s preventable,” he adds. “If skin cancer doesn’t scare you, think with your vanity. Sun exposure is the No. 1 cause of wrinkles, discoloration, age spots and festoons, among other disfiguring problems.”
Here are Scheiner’s tips for preventing, minimizing, and repairing sun damage:
Prevent: Clients aren’t just exposed when skiing, hiking, or taking a beach vacation. “Anytime you go outside, you’re exposing yourself to damaging UVB and UVA rays, and the result is cumulative. A little bit here and a little there adds up.”
Simply driving a car can result in serious sun damage. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found more skin cancers on the left side of patients’ faces—the side exposed while driving—than the right. Scheiner says he’s seen truckers and others who spend years on the road with severe wrinkling on the left side of the face.
“I recommend a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, preferably higher,” he says. “You can also protect yourself from UVA rays, which cause deeper damage, by applying UV-protective film to your car windows. Also, wear clothes with a UPF rating of at least 30.”
Minimize: Good nutrition and topical products can help minimize signs of damage, such as wrinkles and age spots, Scheiner says.
Foods rich in antioxidants—carrots and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables; spinach and other green leafy vegetables; tomatoes; blueberries; peas and beans; fatty fish, and nuts—help protect skin. An American Society for Clinical Nutrition study found that women ages 40 to 75 who consumed more vitamin C had fewer wrinkles.
Clients should use exfoliating creams to remove dead skin cells. Prescription creams including Avita, Avage, Renova and Retin-A have been shown to reduce wrinkles and age spots caused by sun exposure.
Repair: Lasers can resurface facial skin by stripping away the outermost layers. Some non-ablative lasers also stimulate collagen formation, which helps smooth wrinkles.
“I use Reset Laser Skin Resurfacing, which reverses the damage and removes many pre-cancers and even active skin cancers,” Scheiner says. “Reset uses an advanced Dual Pulsed Erbium Laser and my proprietary healing protocol.” It helps reduce the dry, aging skin and encourages collagen in the underlying layers to tighten for a more youthful appearance.
According to Scheiner, the best thing clients can do for their skin starting today is to making application of a broad spectrum, UVB/UVA sunscreen part of their daily routine. “Apply it to all areas of the skin that can be directly exposed to the sun,” he says. “The best scenario is preventing sun damage in the first place.”