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How Skin Savvy Are You?

Test yourself on the subtle and surprising ways you could be vulnerable to skin cancer.

Sun Protection 101

"Applying sunscreen in your 40s or 50s can make a big difference in decreasing the threat of skin cancer," says David J. Leffell, M.D., a professor of dermatology and surgery at the Yale School of Medicine and author of Total Skin. "Even if you have some damage to the skin, sunscreen will enable you to stop repeated injuries to those areas. And if you block UV radiation, some of the precancerous cells may regress or disappear." Here's how to do it right.

Choose the best sunscreen. Experts recommend using a broad-spectrum product with an SPF of at least 30 (such as the new Coppertone ClearlySheer formula or Neutrogena's Beach Defense line) to protect against UVA and UVB rays. You might also consider one that contains novel ingredients like green tea, vitamin C or pomegranate extract, all rich sources of antioxidants.

Apply liberally. Thirty minutes before going outside, cover any exposed skin with sunscreen and thoroughly rub it in. Re-apply every two hours and after toweling off at the beach or pool.

Seek shade. "Early morning or late afternoon are the best times to be active outdoors," Dr. Leffell says. Stay in the shade between 10 and 4, when the sun's rays are at their most intense.

Cover Up. Wear sun-protective clothing and a pretty wide-brimmed hat (you'll ratchet up your style quotient too). Even if you sit under a beach umbrella, apply sunscreen, advises Albert Lefkovits, M.D., an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. UV rays can reflect off the sand onto your face and body.