How to stay beautiful in the Bronze Age
By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Paula Rath
It's odd how some people still haven't made the connection between a "healthy" tan and aging skin. They soak up sun at the beach, then go to the drugstore or cosmetic counter in search of a magic cream to reverse the sun damage. Or visit a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Then it's back to the beach again.
Hello! Exposing unprotected skin to ultraviolet rays is the most damaging thing you can do to your skin.
And in the tropics, so close to the equator, sun protection goes beyond youth preservation it can save lives.
Here's a summary of sun-shielding tactics.
When Oprah asked celebrity dermatologist Patricia Wexler if there is a miracle cream for skin, the doctor replied: "Yes. Sunscreen."
Sunscreens have come a long way in recent years. Gone are the days when you have to look ghostly, feel greasy and smell weird to protect your skin.
When choosing a sunscreen, dermatologists recommend looking for protection against both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. Ingredients to look for include zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and Parsol 1789 (also known as avobenzone). All three offer some protection against UVA rays, which are difficult to measure and dangerous.
Sephora carries the new skin care line Cosmedicine, which was tested at Johns Hopkins Medical School (in 90 degree heat and 80 percent humidity sounds like home!). Its Global Health sunscreen (one for face, another for body, both with SPF 30, containing avobenzone) has a slightly medicinal smell but does not run, drip or spread, and it's not irritating to eyes.
While most Island folks know the sun wreaks havoc on skin, they want to look sun-kissed. Self-tanners, whether applied at home or in a salon, can offer the look without the damage. (And you'll still need a sunscreen over that faux tan.)
At Sephora Ala Moana, manager Jeannie Higa said the best-selling self-tanner is Radiance Plus by Clarins ($39). "It's gentle and easy to apply. It acts as a self-tanner and bronzer in one," she explained.
Advertiser fashion forum member Amy DiFilippi swears by Natura Bissι's self-tanner ($50, Neiman Marcus). She said it looks natural and, while pricey, will make it through six months of beach and pool days.
Lancome, which has long had one of the best-selling self-tanners, has introduced the Flash Bronzer Glow 'n Wear ($29.50, Macy's), touted as "virtually transfer-free tinted color."
Forum member Sherry Shao-ling, an actress and singer who often needs to look tanned, uses Oil of Olay's self-tanner (in drugstores) because "it doesn't smell bad and it's even OK before going to bed." She liked the results she got with Neutrogena's Bronzing Foam but warned, "You need to use latex gloves when applying it."
Shaoling's favorite tanning splurge is having someone else spray her at Sunsplash Tan in Hawai'i Kai ($30). She was thrilled with the results, which she said lasted seven to 10 days.
Madison & Company, a new beauty emporium in Waipi'o, offers Mystic Tan ($30), a streak-free spray tan achieved in one minute in a UV-free spray booth.
At Honolulu Tan & Co., you can be sprayed inside the Magic Tan booth, like a sweet chocolate flavored shower ($30).
If you've got to go golden but don't have time for a self-tanner, there are beaucoup bronzers. Origins' new Sunny Disposition Liquid Bronzer is a combination of plant extracts, mineral oils and mineral pigments that makeup artists like to blend lightly over the bridge of the nose, forehead and chin.
Powdered versions are also popular and easy to apply with the right brush, which should be large and fluffy.
The hottest look in sunglasses this year is BIG think Jackie O on a yacht in the Aegean. This is good news to ophthalmologists. Snug-fitting wraparound sunglasses with large lenses are ideal, according to Dr. Peter Roney, president of the Hawaii Ophthalmological Society.
He warned that Island folks have to be particularly vigilant about wearing sunglasses to protect eyes from the penetrating rays that can cause cataracts and cancers, as well as benign growths such as pterygia, often seen in surfers. Studies have also found that long hours in the sun without protection can contribute to macular degeneration, a common eye disease among older Island residents.
"The closer we live to the equator, the more such eye diseases we see," Roney said. "Baby boomers who have been out in the sun and surfing all their lives are at increased risk," he warned.
Roney recommends sunglasses that block 99 percent or 100 percent of ultraviolet rays. Look for labels that say "UV absorption up to 400nm."
If you are buying nonprescription sunglasses, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends checking the quality of the lenses "by looking at something with a rectangular pattern, such as a floor tile. Hold the glasses at a comfortable distance and cover one eye. Move the glasses slowly from side to side, then up and down. If the lines stay straight, the lenses are fine. If the lines wiggle, especially in the center of the lens, try another pair."
The academy reports that a medium lens is good for day-to-day wear, but in bright conditions a darker lens is a better option. The color and degree of darkness do not, however, tell you anything about the lenses' ability to block UV light. Polarized lenses, they explain, "cut reflected glare sunlight that bounces off smooth surfaces such as pavements or water. They can be particularly useful for driving and fishing."
When it comes to shade, not all hats are created equal. Baby boomers who have worn baseball caps all their lives are now discovering they weren't the best protection. Skin cancers on tops of ears are appearing more frequently.
Loosely-woven hats can let sunshine through their pukas. Better to choose a hat made of a dense weave or a fabric with a high SPF. Physician Endorsed hats, created by a family that includes a dermatologist and a plastic surgeon, are made of high-density cotton with a 50-plus SPF. Available in many styles and colors, they're available at Bareskin Hawaii on King Street, Riches in Kahala Mall, Serenity Spa in Waikiki, and the Kapi'olani Medical Center for women and children gift shop.
In the United States, Seattle is the city best known for sunprotective clothing go figure. Solumbra, a line of clothing with an SPF of 50-plus, originated in Seattle. Find it online at www.sunprecautions.com or call for a catalog: (800) 882-7860.
Another line of clothing with an SPF built into the fabric is Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing, available by catalog or at www.coolibar.com.
Patagonia, in Hale'iwa (637-1245), carries men's and women's clothing with an SPF 30. You can see the collection at www.usoutdoorstore.com/patagonia-clothing.htm.
Mauka to Makai Outdoor Store, at Ward Avenue and Auahi Street, carries Gramicci men's and women's shorts, pants and long-sleeved shirts with SPF 50.
With all these options, is there really any excuse for abusing your skin in the sun?
Reach Paula Rath at firstname.lastname@example.org.