Sun Day School: The Best Products for Summer

The breakthroughs in safe sunning from head to toe.

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June 17, 2009 12:00 AM
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Covering your face with a towel isn't enough. From the neck down, UV exposure makes skin leathery and cellulite more dimpled. Here, the breakthroughs in safe sunning from head to toe.

The Best Summer Sun Products

Damage Control
In the age of Botox and fillers, a woman's neck, chest, and hands are more likely to give away her years than her face. "In your 20s, you'll start to see brown spots and broken capillaries on your neck and chest," predicts Miami dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt. "Sun thins the collagen in blood-vessel walls, making them weak and prone to bruising." With age, collagen and elastin loss also causes wrinkling and sagging. "Crepey lines appear between the breasts and are more noticeable if you wear a push-up bra," says New Orleans dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo. "And your neck gets bumpy like a plucked chicken."
Unfortunately, the body is difficult to treat. "Body skin doesn't regenerate as quickly as facial skin because it has fewer hair follicles and oil glands," explains Brandt. Lasers are most effective for treating redness, brown spots, and sagging, but if you can't invest in four to six treatments, start with a topical regimen of retinol and peptide creams to even tone and firm skin.
summer beauty products
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Damage Control
Nia 24 Sun Damage Repair for Décolletage and Hands, $55
summer beauty products
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Damage Control
Lancaster 365 Cellular Elixir Expert Institute at Home Kit, $129
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Damage Control
Visoanska Paris Anti Age Extreme from Neck and Chest, $170.
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Under Cover
Caffeine and peptide-infused firming lotions help you fit into that bikini, but if you want to keep your thighs dimple-free, stay in the shade. Just as UVA-induced collagen loss makes the face collapse into wrinkles, it'll make skin sag and cellulite look worse, warns Lupo, who recommends washes and lotions with light-reflective mica to camouflage bumps. "Exfoliation can also help stimulate collagen production, but you have to scrub every day," she says.
Regular sloughing will also help prevent the skin from growing leathery. "Your body tries to protect itself from the sun by thickening, and then your skin dries out," says Boston derm Dr. Ranella Hirsch. Omega fatty acids help moisturize and plump up all areas evenly, so cellulite appears smoother.
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Under Cover
Caress Daily Silk Silkening Body Wash, $3.50
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Under Cover
St. Ives Cellulite Shield Gel Creme, $6.99
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Under Cover
Olay Body Wash Plus Tone Enriching Ribbons, $3.99
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Under Cover
Dior Svelte Body Contouring and Firming Concentrate, $62.
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Under Cover
Philosophy When Hope Is Not Enough Omega 3-6-9 Hydrating Body Scrub, $30
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Under Cover
RéVive Cellulite Eraser, $210
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Under Cover
Bliss Fat Girl Scrub, $38

The Best Summer Sun Products

Burn Notice
While both are bad for the skin, a tan is actually worse than a sunburn, according to Hirsch. "A burn is inflammation—your body's way of healing itself after injury," she explains. "But a tan means your skin is giving up—it's not even trying to fight off the damage anymore."
With all the new lightweight, easy-to-apply formulas available, there's no excuse for not wearing sunscreen. But if you've been lazy about reapplying and start seeing red, the best treatment is to take an aspirin (this fever-reducer lowers skin inflammation, too) and slather on a topical antioxidant like coffeeberry or vitamin C. Lupo calls the Revalé coffeeberry-based line "the morning-after remedy for sun damage." The silver lining to your pain? You're probably not going back out to bake anytime soon.
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Burn Notice
Vaseline Aloe Fresh Moisturizing Daily Body Gel, $5.49
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Burn Notice
RevaleSkin Intense Recovery Treatment, $130.
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Burn Notice
BareMinerals Natural Sunscreen SPF 30, $28
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Burn Notice
Hawaiian Tropic Oil-Free Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 50, $8.89
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Burn Notice
Murad Active Radiance Serum, $89
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Burn Notice
Coppertone NutraShield Dual Defense Sunscreen Lotion SPF 70, $10.49

The Best Summer Sun Products

Dark Side
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one person dies of melanoma every hour in the U.S. To reduce this stat, docs at the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (asds.net) are offering free mole checks this month. Turns out, excess UV exposure suppresses the immune system, making you more susceptible to conditions like eczema, staph infections, and cancer. And while men tend to get melanoma on their backs, the lower legs are more of a risk spot for women. "This area gets a lot of incidental exposure in skirts and shorts," explains Lupo. "And women like to sun their legs because they think a tan makes them look more slender."
The only safe tan is still a fake one, but just because you look bronzed doesn't mean you can go outside without protection. Researchers in Berlin recently found that skin treated with DHA (the active ingredient in self-tanners) produces 180 percent more free radicals when exposed to sunlight than skin that's not. Since DHA levels drop significantly each day after application, it's best to plan your self-tanning session for a couple of days before your beach weekend. Still think that tan looks healthy now?
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Dark Side
L'Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Luminous Bronzer Self-Tanning Lotion, $9.99.
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Dark Side
Rodial Skinny Beach SPF 15 Tinted, $49
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Dark Side
Jergens Natural Glow Foaming Daily Moisturizer, $8.99
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The Best Summer Sun Products

Dark Side
Clinique Self Sun Body Airbrush Spray, $20