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Get Groomed: Avvo's Skin Myth's and Truths Revealed

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and it couldn't be more expertly timed, if you ask us. While it's not blazingly hot out quite yet, its warm enough that everyone is (finally) starting to shed some clothing and showing off their hot bods. But shedding the clothing means you're also exposing yourself to harmful UV rays (there are two different types, but you'll learn all about that in a minute). Sorry to be a buzz kill, but its true. But there are still ways for you to indulge in a dark, rich tan while making sure you keep your skin healthy. Tina Alster, MD gives us some illuminating myths and truths about summer skin treatment.

MYTH: Tanning booths provide safe sun; in fact they are a good way to get ready for summer.
TRUTH: Most tanning booths claim to be safe because they emit UVA rays (not UVB rays) that don't burn your skin. However, these same rays, while non-burning, are responsible for deeper dermal damage over time which contributes to wrinkles and skin cancer.

MYTH: Concerns over Vitamin D deficiency mean I should not use sunscreen.
TRUTH: While many people are Vitamin D deficient, exposing one's skin to the summer sun unprotected is not the answer. Only ten minutes of mid-day sun is actually needed to produce ample amount of Vitamin D for the day. For those who still want or need more, Vitamin D supplements as well as a diet with Vitamin D-fortified foods (milk, yogurt, cereals, fatty fish) are recommended.

MYTH: Makeup and face moisturizers that contain SPF are enough protection when heading outside.
TRUTH: These combination products are good if going to the office (with limited sun exposure), but if outdoor activity is planned, these products will only suffice if ample amount is applied (at least a marble's size for the face and a golf ball amount for the body). Also, frequent application is needed (at least every two hours if outside). Most people don't apply enough sunscreen to render themselves protected to the numerical amount printed on the bottle.

MYTH: Waterproof sunscreen keeps your skin protected after going in the water.
TRUTH: Just not true. It will protect you while in the water, but it is best to reapply after you come out because some will rub off in the water or when toweling dry.

MYTH: I keep an eye on my skin, look for new or unusual spots; I don't need to see a doctor.
TRUTH: Everyone should have their skin checked by a doctor once a year. And not just any doctor, but a dermatologist who specializes in skin cancer prevention and treatment. It's critical that people do their homework to find someone who can provide the best care. Avvo is a free website that offers ratings and reviews of all the doctors in the US, including dermatologists. And because May is skin cancer awareness month, Avvo is donating $5 to the Melanoma Research Foundation for every doctor review you leave on the site.

MYTH: The chemicals in sunscreen are bad for me.
TRUTH: Chemicals are only bad if you have sensitive skin. But now there are several non-chemical-containing sunscreens that do not irritate the skin and also have a wide range of sun protection (against UVA and UVB rays). Those with sensitive skin should look for products that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

MYTH: During the summer I always tan, never burn; I'm not at risk for skin cancer.
TRUTH: Because the three most common types of skin cancers (basal cell, squamous cell, melanoma) are related to cumulative sun exposure, protection of the skin from the sun is imperative (regardless of skin type). In fact, skin cancers have been reported in patients with naturally dark skin as well as pale skin, so just because someone tans (rather than burn) doesn't mean that skin cancer is not possible.

Check out some of our favorite SPF's here and here.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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