How to Save Your Life and Look Younger Too

By Inthelab  

Think the title is a bit over-the-top? Trust me, it’s not.

I just received an e-mail from my youngest brother. His father-in-law (FIL), a mere 12 years older than I am, just passed away. My brother’s FIL died from malignant melanoma complicated by rank ignorance.

Seven years ago, my brother’s FIL came from Israel to Los Angeles to a family affair. A family member noted a suspicious mole on the back of his shoulder (how many of us look at the backs of our shoulders, hmm?). He waved away her concern, muttering “It’s nothing.” Fast-forward to last year. FIL goes into hospital for a heart problem and the mole gets noticed, diagnosed, and pronounced: advanced melanoma. As I write this, my brother and sister-in-law are making flight, hotel, and child care arrangements for what’s sure to be a sad and painful next few days.

What’s to be learned from this? Well, I can tell you that my SIL gets her full-body check by a dermatologist 4 times a year. That’s because she had a family member with melanoma, which puts her at a higher risk than most of us. But the rest of us: we need to be checked at least once a year. The dermatologist will look at the backs of your shoulders, between your toes, through the hairs of your scalp, and a bunch more pesky places you can’t or won’t check yourself. If your insurance co-pay or reimbursement is an issue, consider it this way: the full cost of an appointment is about the same as dinner for 2 in the expensive part of the country where I live. Is giving up 1 dinner a year not worth potentially saving your life?

As for looking younger, that’s easy: sunblock. Every day. I am certain FIL never used sunblock and he lived in Israel. I know he never sunbathed (being a rabbi and the kind of rabbi he is, he would not go to a beach, he just would not) but that’s the very devil with melanoma: it can appear on part of you away from exposure to the sun if you make sun exposure a habit (don’t make me rant write about the evils of tanning salons; you can figure it out). Which is why your daytime moisturizer should be a sunblock. A sunblock with at least SPF15, that fits your skin type.

Suggestions according to skin type follow (disclaimer: all sunblocks were bought by yours truly; and yes, I’m on a mission about melanoma because I had a borderline case of it myself 8 years ago: my body looks like a map of the interstate system from the scars).

Normal to Oily skin
Clinique’s City Block Sheer Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF25 is the sunblock of choice for my daughters. Not too greasy, yet with just enough moisturizing properties to compensate for their regimens (if you have oilier skin and use a drying regimen, you’ll want some kind of oil-free moisturizer anyway).

Dry to Very Dry Skin
I like 2 products, and use both (not at the same time, but buying them as I find them). The first one is Person & Covey’s DML SPF25. This line is easier to find on the West Coast, but the website Person and Covey has a way to order directly, and other sites such as Skinwest carry it as well. If you call Person and Covey, you can get some free samples to try before you buy. The second product is relatively new from an old friend, Elizabeth Arden’s 8 Hour Cream SPF50. Maybe it’s a bit of overkill for everyday in the northeast and midwest, but if you live in sunnier climes, it’s perfect. I’m using it now because I’m a fan of the entire 8 Hour line. I have dry skin, and find both of these to be moist enough that I don’t need a supplementary moisturizer underneath. YMMV, of course.

Really and truly, staying out of the sun or using wise sun protection (hats and clothing help too) will help you look younger, prevent wrinkles, avert many skin problems. If you hate the pale-faced look, well that’s why bronzer and spray-tans were invented. I’m on a mission to get people to wear sunblock and have their skin checked yearly. Do it for vanity’s sake if not for any other reason.

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One Comment

  1. avatar marigolds
    Posted November 1, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t notice that this was an inthelab guest post. I didn’t fully cop to it until the daughters were mentioned!

    Thanks for the reminder. I should wear it even in the winter, and I don’t. I promise that I will start! (I do have the yearly mole-check thing, because I have That Kind Of Skin: approximately 8 trillion moles over the surface of my body.)


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