Protecting Your Skin in the Summer Sun

<alt="sunrise"/>Skin cancer is a major concern among adults every year. In 2013, there were over 82,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States alone. Additionally, last year there were roughly 12,600 skin cancer-related deaths.

Skin cancer can start from an irregularity in your skin and develop into something more serious. It’s possible to keep your skin safe from the sun. Before getting into those options, like sunscreen and protective clothing, here are some skin cancer warning signs to look for:

Warning Signs of Skin Problems

The best way to detect skin problems is to pay close attention to changes in your skin. Look out for things like growths or discoloration. If you notice a new lesion or a change in the shape, color, or size of a pre-existing mole or patch of skin, you should seek the consultation of a physician. Often times something very small can lead to something greater. Don’t take the risk. See a doctor when you notice changes on your body.

Non-Sunscreen Protection Options

When it comes to keeping your skin safe from the sun, you have more that a few options to consider.

1. Avoidance

The best skin protection is avoidance. Try to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Keep cool in the shade, and your skin will thank you for it. If you must be in the sun, wear tightly woven clothing and a wide brim hat to keep the sun off of your skin. When clothing like that isn’t a possibility, use plenty of sunscreen.

2. Sunglasses

Wear sunglasses to protect the sensitive skin around your eyes. Children in particular are susceptible to sun damage, so it’s highly recommended you keep their eyes protected, too.

3. Tanning Beds

Some people think tanning beds are safe because you’re away from the sun. The reality is: you should avoid anything related to a tanning bed or a heat lamp. These devices not only have the same harmful UV rays as the sun, tanning beds include additional harmful UV radiation.

4. Sunscreen

When choosing a sunscreen, you should always aim for an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen will not fully protect you, so try to keep in the shade as much as possible.

Other factors make a difference in what sunscreen to choose. For example, babies and toddlers require different types of protection than an adult. Here are some sunscreen options out there to try:

Sunscreen for Momentary Sun Exposure

If you don’t plan on spending time in the sun for more than a few minutes, an SPF of 30 should be okay. We recommend applying lotions that have an SPF in them so that you’re always protected—even if you’re sitting in traffic in your car! The sun’s damaging rays are everywhere.

Broad Spectrum Protection

It’s very important that your sunscreen has both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) protection. This allows protection from both sides of the light spectrum. If you plan to stay in the sun for long periods of time — such as the beach or near a pool — you should use an SPF of at least 30 or higher. With an SPF of 30, you filter out 97 percent of the sun’s UV radiation. You could also try an SPF of 50, which filters out up to 98 percent of these rays.

Sunscreen For Children

Chemicals are especially harmful for children’s skin, so you should avoid sunscreen with PABA and oxybenzone when using it on a child. Sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide tend to be okay for people who have sensitive skin, so it’s okay if these ingredients are in your children’s sunscreen.

One more tip for sunscreen for children: try using alternative applications, like sprays, with colorful packaging that are “fun” to use. Why? Because — and parents already know this — getting sunscreen on children can be a challenge. When using sprays, don’t spray on their faces. Instead, spray on the hands and spread on their faces.

Sunscreen For Sensitive Skin

If you have to manage allergic reactions, acne, or rosacea-prone skin, avoid sunscreens containing:

  • Preservatives
  • Fragrances
  • PABA
  • Oxybenzone
  • Anything “greasy” in substance

Sunscreen For Dry Skin

People with dry skin will find great benefit from moisturizing sunscreens. Apply after showering to “lock in” the moisture to your skin, and be sure to re-apply every 30 minutes.

Have a favorite sunscreen you use daily? Share it in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Werner Kunz

DYI Facial Masks

<alt="home Facials"/>Keeping your skin healthy, hydrated, and clean is your top priority. It’s imperative that you maintain great skin care—especially on your face—to keep your skin looking younger, brighten your complexion, and regularly hydrate your pores to prevent adult acne, blemishes, and skin discoloration.

There are countless facial cleansers, scrubs, and masks on the market, but many are filled with harmful chemicals and unnatural ingredients. We suggest creating your own at-home facial mask to ensure that you’re putting only the very best mixture on your precious skin!

At your next “girls’ night,” mani-pedi day, or personal relaxation time, try mixing together one of these DIY facial masks for a fresh, clean, and bright face:

Olive Oil Facial Cleanser

Combine 2 teaspoons of high quality olive oil, half a teaspoon of lemon oil (NOT lemon juice), and 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt. Rub the mixture into your skin and leave it on your face and neck for a few minutes. Try not to leave it on for too long! Wipe the mask away with a warm washcloth. You can use this mask every day, and we recommend using it as soon as you wake up in the morning. Your skin will be refreshed and softer than you could imagine! Remember to use very high quality olive oil and lemon oil. This mask combats acne and moisturizes dry skin.

Teatime Toner

It’s important to use toner on your skin, especially on the delicate skin around your eyes. This toner treatment is designed to reduce swelling, relax your face, and bring energy and revitalization back into your skin. To create this “Teatime Toner,” choose a high quality green tea and brew a cup. Let the tea sit out and cool (DON’T put ice cubes in this, or it will dilute the solution). Take a round makeup sponge and soak it in the tea. Gently squeeze out the excess and place the makeup sponges directly on your eyelids, or around that area. Keep these sponges on your face for 15-20 minutes before bed, and you’ll notice tighter skin and cleaner pores in no time. Forget the alcohol-based toners. This one is skin-friendly and smells great, too!

The Dry Skin Solution

In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of honey with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Add this sticky mixture to a cleaned, washed face for 20 minutes or more, and then gently remove the mask from your skin with cold water. Use this mask when you’ve spent the day at the beach, outside, or after a workout. Your skin will be refreshed, moisturized, and healed.

Oatmeal Scrub

For a great at-home skin exfoliator, try this facial scrub: combine 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon olive oil in a bowl. Take a packet of plain oatmeal (just the original kind—no flavor), use slightly less water than the packet calls for, and cook it. Mix this together and ensure you’ve created a sticky paste. After the oatmeal cools, add the honey-oil mixture to it. Take the oatmeal mask in your fingers and apply small amounts to your skin, and anywhere on your body you may need to exfoliate. You’ll end up with beautiful, soft skin!

Photo Credit: Neeta Lind

Do you make your own facial masks? Share your favorite recipes and combinations with us below.

Ask the Doctor: Do you have a recommendation for a topical that will help scars heal or fade?

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This week, Dr. James Craigie of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your questions.

Q: Do you have a recommendation for a topical that will help scars heal or fade?

A: Unfortunately, nothing of which we are aware does this reliably. Avoidance of sun exposure is critically important to give scars their best chance of fading, but no topical preparations routinely make scars better. If scars are heavy or raised, Mederma can help, but it should not be used on scars which are already flat.


Dr. James Craigie

Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction

Have a question about breast reconstruction or post-surgical care you’d like answered from our surgical team? Just ask us!

Sunglasses: Different Shades for Different Needs


Summer is here! That means it’s time for plentiful sunshine and fun in the sun. But, are you regularly protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays? Do you wear sunglasses, or do you have trouble finding a pair that fit your face, support your eyesight, and look stylish, too?

Choosing sunglasses isn’t as easy as you may think. There are different styles available for different face shapes. There are tons of options for lens color, prescription sunglasses, and various other types of glasses available for every style, personality, and unique need.

Here are some things to keep in mind before you buy your next pair:

Know the shape of your face.

Different glasses shapes fit different facial structures. If you’ve ever tried on sunglasses before, you know that some pairs just don’t fit properly or look great when they’re on your face. Some sunglasses will accentuate your best facial features, while others weren’t made for you—and that’s okay!

Most people have one of the following facial structures: heart-shaped, round, oval, or square. To find out your facial structure, try tracing the outline of your face—from your chin, all the way around your cheek bones, to your forehead, and back down. Keep your facial structure in mind and tell a professional what “type” you are: she can choose glasses that are perfectly suited for your particular face shape.

For example, people with heart-shaped faces are better suited wearing wayfarers and cat eye glasses, whereas people with oval faces can also wear wayfarers, but they can also sport a great pair of aviators, too! There are great, stylish glasses out there for every face shape.

Make sure they have UVA/UVB protection.

The sunshine has the potential to not only damage our skin, but it can be detrimental to our eyesight as well. When choosing sunglasses, make sure you’re picking a pair that has proper UVA and UVB protection.

To protect your eyes from UV radiation, cataracts, burns, and various types of cancer, be sure to choose glasses that have at least 99 percent UVB ray protection and 95 percent UVB ray protection. Steer clear from glasses that are labeled “cosmetic” or don’t have any type of UVA/UVB protection label on them.

Lens color is important, too.

The color of your sunglasses lenses is also an important factor to consider before making your next purchase. Different colored lenses affect the way we detect color contrast and separate colors in our line of vision. If you don’t choose lenses that are comfortable for your eyes, that strain your vision, or that make it difficult to do certain activities, you will be harming your eyesight.

Grey lenses are one of the most common types of lenses because they don’t drastically affect color, but they still reduce the intensity of light. Brown lenses are great for sports, especially skiing or snowboarding, and if you’re hiking or in the outdoors, because they enhance color contrast and block intense blue light. Yellow, red, and violet lenses are all used for enhancing particular objects and certain colors. They’re useful in driving, snow sports, hunting, and when you need to focus on a particular object.

Get your eyes examined before you purchase a new pair.

Sunglasses are fun, stylish, and useful, but before you invest in a new pair, consider getting your eyes examined by an optometrist. Sunglasses should be worn regularly, whenever you step outside, you’re driving, or your eyesight is affected by light.

Your optometrist will assess if you need corrective lenses for your glasses. There are countless styles, brands, and designer sunglasses available that support prescription lenses. Whether you need these special lenses for driving, working, or all the time, there are great solutions for all types of eyes.

Do you love sunglasses? Share your best tips for picking the right pair with us below!