Four Women Friends at the Beach ca. 2000 Trinidad and Tobago

Guys, if you do anything differently this month in honour of  Men’s Health month, start with your skin. No matter what age you are–and I have met quite a few men who experience acne well into their 30s, 40s and even 50s—you may experience acne, and/or you may experience skin cancer. It’s important to know that you may not notice skin cancer right away because several types, such as the ominous malignant melanoma,  typically presents on the back or chest, not the face.

You may have been told that sun exposure is good for acne.  You notice an improvement because the sun tends to dry up excess sebum in the skin—that is, the oil secreted by hair-follicles. (It’s sebum that interacts with the bacteria naturally found in our pores that can cause the localized inflammation and outbreak we call acne.)  However, trading acne for a sunburn is not that appealing, especially considering the risks of skin cancer that are associated with sunburn. Realize that there are multiple contributors to acne, including hygiene practices, testosterone levels, and yes, DIET…with a lot of research to prove it.

If you plan on getting some rays this summer, it’s wise to use a sunscreen—but not just any sunscreen—especially if you are prone to breakouts.  Use this handy list to help you find a sunscreen that is not going to aggravate your acne:

1. Make sure it is non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging).  Clogged pores are one risk factor for acne, since it prevents the pores from breathing.  Avoid the ‘waterproof’ sunscreens as they may clog pores more easily, since they are formulated to cling to the skin more tightly than other types.

2. Look for an oil-free version if you have excessively oily skin (i.e. your face is usually shiny by noon hour).  If you are concerned about the oiliness of the product, keep in mind that if you are going to be swimming then the oil-containing sunscreens offer moisture that is stripped off easily by the water, sun, wind, and your towel!

3. Look for mineral-based sunscreens instead of chemically-based ones. What you put on the skin goes in, so think twice about the sunscreen labels with words you can’t pronounce!  Zinc oxide offers excellent SPF protection, and since zinc is an essential nutrient it is beneficial for skin and many other organs, too.

Check out EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for the highest safety-rated sunscreens. Although some of these are not available in Canada, it gives you a starting point to finding the highest quality sunscreens locally.  Enjoy the outdoors this summer….and remember, if you are feeling self-conscious about the way your skin looks in a bathing suit, I have a Clear Skin Program that can help!

What sunscreen/sunblock do YOU use, and why would you recommend it?

By Andrea

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