One way to uplift and energize your mood during COVID-19

One way to distract, uplift and energize your mood during our COVID-19 hibernation is to make a move on improving your long-term skin appearance and skin health.  

Woman puts on skin creamIn fact, you can reverse years of sun-damage from the comfort of your own home.  You can start by logging into a telehealth appointment with your dermatologist who is now probably offering virtual appointments. Together you can create a personalized skin renewal plan based on your amount of sun damage and skin type.  For example, your dermatologist might guide you through a monthly at-home glycolic acid peel system or prescribe a strong anti-aging cream like Retin-A or even a cancer fighting cream like fluorouracil. Fluorouracil and other cancer fighters seek and destroy pre-cancerous growths that you might not even know you have. This high-impact treatment causes two weeks of temporary red peeling skin, but you are in quarantine, so who cares? Your reward will be a transformation from rough to baby smooth skin and elimination of potential troublesome skin cancers.

…you can reverse years of sun-damage from the comfort of your own home

Nevertheless, with or without a virtual visit to your dermatologist, the single most cost-effective way to maintain your freshly renewed skin is to apply sunscreen daily.  The American Academy of Dermatology strongly endorses daily sunscreen use even if you don’t plan to be in the sun. We Southern Californians are bombarded with surprisingly high doses of aging sun rays even during brief walks and through our house and car windows.  Daily sunscreen has been proven to make a big impact in reducing the harmful effects of UV exposure including a whopping 50% reduction in the incidence of malignant melanoma– the most serious type of skin cancer. Also, your average high-end department store  anti-aging cream can’t compete with the clock-stopping effects of an excellent sunscreen. In a study comparing daily vs. occasional sunscreen use over 4 years, the daily use group was judged on average to look the same age at the end of 4 years when compared to how they looked at the start.

mature woman applies skin creamBut there are so many sunscreens on the market, which sunscreen should you buy?  Your dermatologist will likely recommend a “physical” as opposed to “chemical” sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.  Physical sunscreens contain zinc or titanium particles that block UV rays instead of a chemical sunscreen that absorbs UV rays.  In my experience, physical sunscreen brands that work well include Elta MD UV Daily and La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Lite Tinted Mineral.  For those with allergies or sensitivities to some sunscreens, I have found Avène Mineral Fluid Sunscreen is a good option. At this time many popular chemical sunscreens have raised health concerns because they contain octinoxate and oxybenzone, chemicals that are being studied by the FDA for potential hormone disruptive effects.  Chemical sunscreens are also banned in some states due to their possible role in bleaching coral reefs.  However, despite the potential risks, chemical sunscreens like Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen continue to be very popular because they are non-sticky and fast-drying.  Whatever your choice, sunscreen should be “slopped-on” generously every two hours, you should also seek the shade whenever possible, avoid midday sun, and accessorize with a broad brimmed hat and sunglasses.

With easy to incorporate daily sun protection maneuvers and dermatologist-tailored skin rejuvenating interventions, we will finally all emerge from our quarantine cocoons with at least renewed, flawless and healthier skin to show for it.  Wishing you a safe and gratitude-filled home life during these challenging times .