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Pay special attention to your lips.
The lower one is particularly susceptible to sun damage, says NYC dermatologist Paul M. Friedman, MD. Use balms or gloss with SPF 15, at least, and reapply often. The shine in a gloss without built-in protection can actually act like a magnifying glass, attracting rays and intensifying their burning power, says Adrienne Denese, an NYC MD and founder of Dr. Denese skincare products.
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If you haven't already, check out sunscreen pads.
They're like cleansing cloths, but with SPF instead of soap. They make it much easier to cover your entire face, your hairline, and your ears, which are often ignored and very vulnerable to skin cancer, says Dr. Friedman. Try Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Powerful Sun Protection SPF 30 Daily Sunscreen Towelettes, $18.
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Don't wimp out on applying SPF close to your eyes because of the sting.
You need to go all the way to the lash line and on the upper lid, says Dr. Denese. La Roche-Posay Hydraphase UV Eyes, $29.50, is non-irritating and has a fluid-like consistency that glides on easily. Or get a formula specifically for babies or kids.
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Go beyond everyday SPF.
Instead of calling it a day with basic SPF, first layer on an antioxidant serum with vitamin C or green tea extract for a better buffer against the elements, says Jeannette Graf, MD, a dermatologist in Great Neck, New York. Or use an all-in-one like Neutrogena Anti-Oxidant Day Lotion SPF 20, $19.
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Try powder sunscreen.
If putting a second coat of sunscreen on your face two hours after the first one makes you look like an oil slick, borrow this tactic from Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist in New York City: First apply a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen lotion. When it's time for a second layer, dust on a powder version, such as Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45, $30, which zaps oil and acts as a physical barrier. The powder is housed in the brush, so it's perfect for stashing in your bag and applying on the go.
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At night gently slough skin with an alpha or beta hydroxy acid cleanser.
Doing so sheds the top layer, which helps to brighten the skin and lighten sun-induced discoloration. Try Skin Effects by Dr. Jeffrey Dover Glycolic Cream Cleanser, $13, which is non-stripping.
To fade brown spots, follow with Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, $49.50, which rivals Rx-strength products without a doctor visit. Spots are not a face-only concern, by the way. Your chest is often exposed when you walk or swim, and the skin is naturally thinner there to begin with, says Dr. Graf.
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For maximum skin hydration, start with serums.
They have the thinnest consistency and absorb most quickly. Lumene Excellent Future Deep Repairing Serum, $30, is a good choice. Then apply a thicker cream like Vichy Neovadiol Gf Day Normal/Combination Skin, $48, to seal moisture.
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A mask is a surefire way to soothe summer-weary skin.
Use one two or three times a week and apply generously, says Dr. Graf. Include your neck and chest too. We like Avene Soothing Moisture Mask, $22. To get the most bang for your buck, apply right after exfoliating, which readies skin to soak in the benefits.
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Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, fights wrinkles, but it also makes you more sun-sensitive.
If you go on a retinol routine in the summer, work it in gradually. Start with a nighttime product (two or three times a week) that contains the lowest percentage of the ingredient so your skin has time to adjust to it. Extend it down to your decolletage, but be sure to follow with a rich, emollient cream, says Dr. Graf.
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Wearing a T-shirt in the sun doesn't mean you're golden—a white tee has a UPF rating (the sunscreen equivalent for fabric) of less than 10, compared with a minimum of 30 required to receive the Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation. To up protection, add a colorless dye—such as Rit Guard, $20/6-pack—to clothes in the wash. It won't change the look or feel of the fabric but gives it an additional sun-protective layer.
Going strapless? A wide-brimmed hat shields your face, neck (an often-overlooked area, especially the back), and some of your chest, says Dr. Graf. Find stylish options—all with a UPF rating of at least 50 (meaning they block 97.5 percent of the sun's rays)—at WallarooHats.com.
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Originally published in the June 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.