Originally created 06/07/01

Battle sun's rays in style

NEW YORK -- There are a million reasons to love the warm sunshine. Ultraviolet rays are not among them.

Lucky for us, quick fixes to minimize these drawbacks do exist: sunscreen and sunglasses. And in the 21st century, these forms of protective gear don't look like protective gear.

Sunscreen doesn't have to be thick and greasy, and sunglasses don't have to be so heavy and dark that you can't see a thing when you saunter inside for a blast of air conditioning.

Everyone needs to wear some sort of sun protection on their skin every day - not just on beach days, says Robert Kalafsky, Avon's executive director of skincare global research and development.

And this isn't just a summertime rule.

"There is no reason not to be protected every day," Kalafsky says, especially with the daily cosmetic products on the market now that contain sufficient UV protection. Avon's Age Block Environmental Protection Cream also claims to curb pollution and smoke damage.

"There's a misconnection between outdoor and beach protection, and daily protection. They don't have to be the same."

For everyday use, foundations, concealers, moisturizers and lipsticks that offer both UVA and UVB protection offer sufficient screening while taking a walk or sitting outside for lunch.

But, Kalafsky stresses, make sure that UVA rays (the rays that cause premature signs of aging) are addressed. The sun protection factor (SPF) applies only to UVB - or burning - rays.

Look for products that contain either Parsol 1789, titanium dioxide or zinc, he says.

SkinCeuticals' Daily Sun Defense products also include SunCaps, a form of octyl methoxycinnamate, which targets long-range UVA rays.

These are the same chemicals used in the heavier outdoor-use lotions, explains Sheldon Pinnell, a professor of dermatology at Duke University Medical Center and a consultant for SkinCeuticals cosmetics.

The difference in texture between cosmetic sunscreens and beach sunscreens comes as a result of waterproofing. A waterproof lotion needs an oil base, which creates the thick appearance, according to Pinnell. The oil-based lotion also can clog pores.

It's important to use a waterproof product when playing watersports, he adds, but cosmetic sunscreens work for almost anything else.

Also, whatever sunscreen you use, don't forget to apply it on the ears and lips. The most aggressive skin cancers are often found in these places, he adds.

(The color of a lip product has no effect on its sun-blocking properties, Pinnell says, as long as the lipstick, gloss or balm has an SPF.)

Pinnell suggests putting on daily sunscreen under makeup and make sure it's applied evenly. Putting blush or another cosmetic product on top won't change the effectiveness, he says.

There is no such thing as a "safe" tan, unless the color comes from makeup source - either a self-tanning cream or a bronzer, adds Kalafsky.

"A tan is a signal that you're trying to protect your skin from something harmful. A tan is turning on a protective mechanism to minimize damage."

While makeup has now added function to its fashion, sunglasses have done the reverse. Most lenses have been protecting the eyes from UV rays for years but now they look good in the process.

UVA rays can permanently damage an eye's retina and UVB rays are absorbed by the cornea, according to Chris Cummings of Smith Sport Optics.

UV protection is colorless, according to Chris Cummings of Smith Sport Optics, so the color of the lens doesn't matter from a practical standpoint. It only matters as a personal preference - both in how you see the world and how the world sees you.

Eye color mixed with lens color can change your "vision," says Cummings.

Smith Sport, which targets its sunglasses toward cyclists, hikers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts, offer a polarized collection, which reduces horizontal glare.

Polarized lenses are actually two glass lenses with a film in between, Cummings explains. The process cuts down on horizontal glare, acting like a Venetian blind.

Accessories designer Kate Spade says UV standards are the most important factor in creating sunglasses, but the fashion aspect cannot be ignored.

"Sunglasses are particularly personal because they are on your face. They are the first thing people will notice," says Spade, who recently launched her first line of eyewear.

Since her background is fashion, she enjoyed experimenting with different lens colors, and details on the bridge and arm. And the perfect marriage of fashion and function is big lenses because they keep the sun out and make a statement.

There is something about big sunglasses that give people, and women in particular, a presence, observes Spade. She carries two pairs in her purse - one with round frames, the other square.


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