En español | Summer is the season that worries me most — and not because of the bugs. Ultraviolet sunrays can wreak havoc on your skin. Unprotected sun exposure and sunburns increase your risk of skin cancers such as squamous and basal cell carcinomas as well as melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. In one recent study, 42 percent of all individuals reported getting sunburned at least once a year. To keep your skin young and healthy, follow these simple steps.
It may sound obvious, but the best skin-saving strategy is to limit your time in direct sunlight to 15 minutes a day. Remember to cover up and apply UVA/UVB-blocking SPF 30 sunscreen, preferably with zinc oxide.
Next, eat red and orange foods — like tomatoes and orange peppers — which contain the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene, respectively. These tasty vegetables offer natural protection from the sun, and may help repair cells after sun damage, so grill some at your next barbecue. Just grill in moderation. Grilling, frying, and roasting can produce compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the foods we eat. These AGEs damage the protein collagen, which may lead to wrinkles and contribute to skin aging. When you grill, use acidic marinades such as lemon juice or vinegar and add herbs and spices like ginger, cinnamon, sage, marjoram, tarragon, and rosemary, to reduce AGE formation.
Here's a tip many folks will enjoy: Drink a glass of red wine. Red wine contains resveratrol, a compound that activates antiaging sirtuins. Sirtuins are proteins that block certain biological processes that contribute to aging. Plus, resveratrol is a phyto estrogen — an estrogenlike hormone in plants — that may increase collagen and hydrate the skin. While more research is warranted, studies suggest that resveratrol may offer potent antiaging benefits.
Finally, never underestimate the power of cosmetic creams. Look for a cream with biopeptides: One study found that a product containing a yeast biopeptide increased skin hydration, reduced pigmentation, and improved skin texture — after just four weeks. Also look for creams containing peptide fragments such as palmitoyl pentapeptide (pal-KTTKS) or the newer stabilized ascorbyl pentapeptide (SAP), which improves your skin's appearance by stimulating collagen and elastin production, thereby reversing fine lines and wrinkles.
Also of interest: Younger looking skin without surgery.