Jennie James

Jennie James

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Ways to Get Sun Protection—Besides Wearing Sunscreen

Young woman applying suncream spray on the beach

Photo: Getty Images

I feel like skin cancer is everywhere! My mom had it twice. My mother-in-law had it and needed to have MOHS surgery. You should start taking care of your skin when you're young. But it's never too late to start taking care of your skin either!

Consider supplements. A double-blind study found that taking a 500-milligram supplement of a form of vitamin B3 (niacin) called niacinamide twice a day reduced the risk of nonmelanoma skin cancers by 23 percent.

Eat your sun protection. Eating the Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of produce, legumes, whole grains, and olive oil, had a 17 percent lower risk of all skin cancer and a 28 percent lower risk of melanoma.

Avoid certain fish. While the healthy fats in fish may offer sun protection and lower your skin cancer risk, overdoing it on high-mercury types like swordfish could have the opposite effect.

Track your exposure. Experts hope new devices that show you just how much UV exposure you’re getting and how it’s affecting your skin will lead to better behavior and sun protection habits.

Stay safe behind the wheel. The average percentage of front-windshield UVA blockage is 96 percent, side windows block far less.

Fine-tune your application strategy. If you’re using a sunscreen spray, keep the nozzle less than an inch from your skin—you should see liquid dripping—and then rub it in. With a stick sunscreen, pass over each area four times to get enough protection. And don’t forget the skin around your eyes, which studies show is one of the most neglected spots, as well as your lips.

Avoid the blues. Blue light (aka high-energy visible light, or HEV) emits from the screens on smartphones, tablets, computers, and LED TVs, as well as from fluorescent and LED lighting. Early research indicates that HEV light can make melasma—patches of darker skin on the face—worse. 

Repair the cells. There are DNA-repair creams, which contain enzymes that help undo sun damage.

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