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"My number one tip is to wear sun protection everyday," says Dr. Dara Spearman, Board Certified Dermatologist of Forefront Dermatology in Michigan. "Your sunscreen should be in the form of a moisturizer with at least SPF 30 or higher."
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It's great if your foundation has SPF, but be sure to wear a sunscreen moisturizer underneath. "Makeup tends to sit on top of the skin and does not penetrate the skin the same way a moisturizer would," says Dr. Spearman. "Makeup also tends to slightly rub off throughout the day which makes it less effective at protecting you from the sun."
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If you're going to be in the direct heat, use your clothes and accessories as an extra layer of defense against the sun. "A big hat with a wide brim is a great form of sun protection," says Dr. Spearman. "You can also purchase sun protective clothing."
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"Just because you're not laying out at the beach, doesn't mean you're not exposed to harmful sundays," cautions Dr. Spearman. "Activities such as gardening, walking the dog, or taking road trips for long periods of time in the car are just a few examples where you are in the direct sunlight and at risk for sunburn."
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Wearing sandals all summer long exposes the skin on your feet to harmful sun rays. "Whenever you reapply sunscreen to your face and upper body, don't forget to lather it on your feet, too," says Dr. Spearman. If you do a lot of walking outdoors, Spearman advises finding a lightweight, closed toe shoe to guard against foot and toenail fungus. "You don't want to wear flip flops for days at a time because you are exposing your feet to a lot of bacteria and various elements."
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In the summertime, your skin may not look as dry because there's more humidity in the air and natural oil on the skin, but you still want to make sure you are moisturizing your skin well. "If you use a cream moisturizer in the winter, switch to a lightweight lotion moisturizer in the summer," says Dr. Spearman
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Exfoliation removes dead skin cells from your skin's surface. This buildup, if not removed, can lead to a dull complexion and also prevent your sunscreen from effectively penetrating the skin. "Invest in a good body brush and use it once per week," advises Dr. Spearman.
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"As African Americans, we tend to overlook sunscreen because we think 'black don't crack.' but we can't neglect protecting our skin," says Dr. Spearman. "Just because you're not laying out at the beach for hours to get a tan, doesn't mean you're still not exposed to harmful sun rays in your daily activities."
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Dr. Dara Spearman is a Board Certified Dermatologist at Forefront Dermatology in Michigan. She is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology and her clinical interests include cosmetic dermatology, ethnic skin care and skin cancer treatment.
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