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Teen Health

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Shun the Sun for Great Skin

Teens, if you want great skin now - and 10 years from now - then shun the sun, or you'll have wrinkled, cancer-prone skin.


No Teen Wants Old Skin

Prevent wrinkles now? More than 80% of the signs of skin aging -- the lines and wrinkles you see in your parents -- are the result of the tans they had as teens before the age of 18. Chemist Ben Kaminsky, author of the skin-care guide Beyond Botox, knows all about helping skin of all ages look its best. As a chemist, Kaminsky makes lotions and creams for teens and adults that help to cleanse, repair, nourish and protect the skin.

"Sunscreens are the mainstay of sunburn prevention," says Kaminsky, "and many factors influence the effectiveness of a sunscreen, including your skin type, when you put on the product, the amount you apply, and the time of day you go out -- early, midday or late in the day. The sunscreen's value will also depend on the thickness of the skin and the type of skin -- fair, olive, or black skin."

Kaminsky says to put on sunscreen at least 20 minutes before you go out into the sun. Put it on once more every 2 hours, especially after swimming or sweating.

Catch Rays ... But Just a Few

It's OK to get some sun to give yourself ample vitamin D, which works to build strong bones and boost your immune system to keep you well. That said, milk and other foods are fortified with vitamin D, so you don't need much time in the sun to fill your body's needs.

How much time in the sun is healthy? "It's hard to tell how much sun you really need," says Dr. Hornung, "Ten to 15 minutes of sun a few times a week is plenty."

What about slowly building a "base tan," to protect your skin from long days at the beach? Dr. Hornung says it won't protect your skin. "Even if you want to build a base tan before hitting the beach," she says, "the SPF protection value of the base tan is small. It's not the best way to guard against a future burn."

Also, whether you get your tan slowly as a base tan or all in one week, the studies show that tanned skin increases the risk of sun damage.

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