Protect Your Skin
Dan's Papers, July 13, 2007

Keep your skin safe in the summer.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and is diagnosed in more than one million people per year. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills one person every hour. While not everyone will get skin cancer, everyone can get wrinkles. And the sun is the most critical factor in the aging of skin.

Good sun protection that guards against UVA and UVB rays is crucial every day of the year, not just in summer. Summer is, of course, the time when the most skin is exposed and without the protective layer of clothing, it is all the more important to slather on the sun block. Our faces are most exposed to the sun and so it is very important to use a sunscreen there. Find a good moisturizer with sunscreen and re-apply repeatedly throughout the day. Some foundations now contain sun protection, as well.

Dr. Michelle Copeland, a Harvard Medical School graduate with a thriving plastic surgery practice on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, understands that feeling good about the way you look is critical to overall wellbeing. Her approach to skin care proves that it is possible to turn back the clock and rejuvenate the look and feel of your skin without costly treatments or surgery. Lasting contentment with our appearance can be achieved through the one body part that we're most likely to overlook—the skin.

A great deal of what Dr. Copeland regularly sees in her patients is the damaging effects of the sun. "There was a time when we did not fully realize the impact of sunbathing on our skin. But now we know there is no such thing as safe sun," she says. Luckily, there are easy and effective ways to protect yourself, and most importantly, the children in your life.

We all like the look of a tan. There are now many great sunless tanners available, and you can achieve a very natural-looking glow this way. The downside is these can sometimes be streaky, so Dr. Copeland recommends using an exfoliator before applying. "I usually suggest scrubs, AHA and microdermabrasion products to my patients, rather than a loofah or brush, which is a source of germs and bacteria that can cause irritation and infection."

People think they have a layer of protection when they have a tan, even a sunless tan. Be wary of this—a tan is the body's natural protection against too much sun, but a sunless tan offers no more protection than bare skin. Look for a sunless tanner that also offers an SPF factor.

There are some terrific products on the market that do double duty—they protect against sun and repair with antioxidants—but if you choose to use just a moisturizing screen or block, be sure to follow up sunbathing with a good antioxidant-rich moisturizer to address damage and to soothe stressed skin. These products can actually help repair skin and undo the damage of both environment and aging—so slather them on. Look for products that contain Resveratrol, Selenium, Ferulic Acid or Vitamins A, C and E—these will help your skin repair the damage the sun has done.

Address sun spots and discolorations with a pigment formula—something with antioxidants will help with cell renewal. Kojic Acid, plant extracts of Thyme, Arbutin and Licorice Extract help diminish discolorations, scars, age spots and brown spots, so look for formulas with these ingredients.

Beautiful skin is really the result of good care. Dr. Copeland recommends the following daily routine—cleanse and tone, exfoliate, activate (liven up your skin with antioxidants), moisturize and protect with sunscreen. If you take these five simple steps every day, your skin will be beautiful.

Dr. Michelle Copeland, D.M.D., M.D., is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. She is the author of the best-selling books Change Your Looks, Change Your Life and The Beautiful Skin Workout. She also has her own skin-care line, Dr. Michelle Copeland Skin Care, available through For more information visit