The absolute number one best defense against aging is Sunscreen. In fact, a cosmetic product really shouldn't be called "anti-aging" unless it contains a sunscreen.
Because the number one enemy in the fight to ward off premature aging is the Sun. It's been estimated by many that the sun is responsible for over 95% of what we consider to be the appearance of aging: brown spots, freckles, leathery sagging skin, wrinkles.
Imagine what your skin would be like if you had protected it from the sun from the time you were 6 months old to now. Your skin would be flawless!
When I attended beauty school at the Aveda Institute, I had a client who was in her mid 50's (she wrote on her profile chart, though I would never have guessed it). As a student, it was our job to examine the client's skin, then write down the top 3 issues we see and then go get our instructor to come in and see if she concurs with what we wrote down. I honestly could find nothing to write. The usual issues I'd see like dryness, sun damage, blotchiness were just not there. It was flawless. I went to my instructor and told her "seriously, there's nothing wrong with her skin. It's perfect". My teacher kind of gave me a polite smile that suggested "Right. A 55 year old woman with flawless skin. Sure". After my teacher examined the client's skin, all she could say is "You're skin is beautiful". After which the woman explained that her mother made her wear hats, sunscreen and protective clothing her whole life. And despite the fact she was an avid golfer, she wore sunscreen daily and of course a hat. She was a walking testament to the powers of Sun Protection. And I showed my teacher that I knew flawless skin when I see it :-)
The moral of this story is: Wear Sunscreen. Everyday. No Excuses.
HERE ARE THE BASICS:
1) Use Sun block with a SPF of 30 or higher. SPF 30 provides protection for most of the day. For example if you get sun burn in 10 minutes, SPF 30 will protect you for 300 minutes. If you use SP 15, you will be protected from the sun for 150 minutes. The higher number doesn't protect 'more', just longer.
2) Make sure to use a broad spectrum sunblock. Broad spectrum sun blocks protect both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are present even when there is no sun and can lead to skin cancers. UVB rays are present when there is sun light out.
3) Be sure to reapply sun block early and often. Water breaks down sun block even if the product is water proof. The sun will also break down your sun block over time. Reapply sun block at least once every hour if you are out in a pool. Be sure to use your sun screen daily.
4) Be sure to apply sun block even if you are just resting in the shade away from sun light. This is because UVA rays are present even when there is no direct sun light.
5) Buy new sun screen every year. Most sun screen do not protect as well after 12 months because the ingredients start to lose the amount of sun protection that they can give.
6) Head inside at noon. The sun is strongest at this point. The sun is strongest between 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM.
7) Wear UV sunglasses to protect your eyes, a hat to protect your scalp (and helps to protect your face if its brim is wide) and tight shirt to protect your body from the sun.
8) Take special care when going to the beach. Sun block may need to be reapplied more frequently since the sand and the water reflect the sun creating a stronger UVB ray. Higher altitudes also give the sun more intensity. Along with water and sand, snow reflects the damaging rays of the sun as well, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
9) Be sure to drink plenty of water. This keeps your skin hydrated and improves the protection of your sun block.
10) DO NOT USE TANNING BEDS. They are not safer than regular sun exposure and there’s evidence to suggest they are actually worse.
If you must have a tan, become adept at using sunless tanning lotion. Excellent color and not damaging at all to your skin.
Remember, though, to wear sunscreen over the fake tan, too!