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Ask The Makeup Diva
Welcome to Ask The Makeup Diva™! Our resident expert, The Makeup Diva, answers makeup and skin care questions sent in by readers just like you.

Q: I'll be going on vacation very soon and generally stay out of the sun. Since we're staying at a beach resort, do you think sunning for just a few days is safe?

A: No. Run - don't walk - away from tanning, even just to bring out charming freckles or a gentle flush of red. Many women were raised to cover themselves with baby oil and literally "fry." Cosmetics and anti-aging products certainly aid your complexion's health, but damage is still irreparable. Moreover, sunning becomes a "Catch-22" of sorts: Once you're bronzed, you are forced to stay that way to help conceal the harm done. Skin becomes leathery, wrinkled, and tough.

Consider this statistic: The American Academy of Dermatologists has said that 90% of aging is caused by exposure to sun, with only 10% due to chronology.

Tanned skin first became popular in the 1920's, considered a sign of affluence and having enough leisure time to pursue recreation outdoors. Since that time, the occurrence of skin cancer has risen exponentially. It is especially dangerous for those with fair skin, freckles, and of certain ethnic backgrounds. Even if you were born with a hardy, olive skin tone, you are still at risk.

Sunburn is as serious as first-, second-, or third-degree burns due to accidents. Moreover, Ultraviolet A, B, and C rays penetrate through makeup and clothing. Typical summer fashions provide a sun protection factor (SPF) of only 5 to 9; once clothing becomes wet, this defense decreases.

Always wear a sunscreen when outside. Unfortunately, some women choose products with high SPF values (30+) and experience a mistaken sense of security, allowing themselves to remain outdoors for longer periods. Thus, they are as vulnerable as women who use a low-SPF product or no protection at all.

Time outside is dangerous if you are taking medications for high blood pressure, anxiety, or other conditions. Some ingredients in sunscreens and simple exposure to rays can serious trigger allergic reactions. Once you've developed a severe sensitivity to sun, you may be forced to stay indoors for the remainder of your life.

So skip the tan, even for a short while. Reach for a high-value SPF sunscreen and re-apply often. Apply it to areas covered by clothing, and find an attractive, wide-brimmed hat which shades your neck as well. A pair of chic sunglasses will prevent you from squinting (causing lines around your eyes as well as cataracts, the chief cause of blindness). A pale complexion is once again fashionable. If you still prefer a darker look, mimic it with a bronzing product (there are several excellent tints and powders available, some packed with ingredients to nourish as well) and a good self-tanner. I like Bare Escentuals mineral bronzing powder (available from for $20.00), but you'll find other effective ones in department, drug, and grocery stores. Some of the best-selling, easily applied self-tanners are produced by Coppertone (no more orange skin as in days past), Neutrogena, Clinique, and Estee Lauder.

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