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Here are some tips and products to help protect you and your family from the ravages of the sun:
Sunscreen: The first line of defense against the sun. Greaseless formulas, spray-on products, even a convenient SPF 30 wipe called Spwipes (www.spwipes.com) take the mess out of applying sunscreen. Children should use sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher. Look for products that also contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzone (also called Parsol 1789). These protect against the sun's UVA rays thought to trigger melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer. Most other sunscreen ingredients absorb UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburn and less serious skin cancers. Apply sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before going out into the sun to allow the cream to bind to the skin, use an ounce of sunscreen per application and reapply every two hours. For everyday use, an increasing number of moisturizers, such as Neutrogena Healthy Defense (www.neutrogena.com), contain SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Use these in addition to sunscreen, not in place of them.
Clothing: Traditional clothing offers little in the way of sun protection. A white T-shirt, for example, provides the equivalent of an SPF 5 sunscreen. Specialized fabrics are now available to block almost all of the sun's ultraviolet rays. Mail-order catalogs include Sun Precautions ( 882-7860, www.sunprecautions.com) and Coolibar ( 926-6509, www.coolibar. com). Rit Sun Guard (www. ritsunguard.com) laundry additive washes SPF 30 sun protection into regular clothing. Treatments last for about 20 washings.
Eyeglasses and sunglasses: A recent study found that only 6 percent of people knew that the sun's rays can harm the eyes. Transitions Optical ( 848-1506, www.transitions.com), among others, makes prescription lenses that automatically darken when exposed to ultraviolet light. Similarly, FeatherWates SPF, available at LensCrafters optical stores (www. lenscrafters.com), are prescription sunglasses that reduce the sun's damaging rays.
Lip protection: Lips are a common site for skin cancer, in part because people often miss them when applying sunscreen. Lip balms with sun protection, such as Blistex Ultra Protection (www.blistex.com), have been associated with a decrease in lip cancers.
Sunless tans: If you simply must have some summer color, there are several UV-free options. Mystic Tan (www.mystic tan.com) spray-on tan is available in salons throughout the United States. Do-it-yourself sunless tanning lotions include Clinique's line of Self-Sun products (www.clinique.com).
(The San Antonio Express-News web site is at http://www.express-news.net)
c.2003 San Antonio Express-News