In a city known for overexposure in a lot of ways, there’s a lesson to be learned in keeping it under wraps when it comes to the sun. Many summer sun worshippers bristle at the thought of sunscreen and long sleeves, but experts say that 80 percent of skin cancers are related to the sun, and the high risk factor in Las Vegas has a lot to do with our sun-centric way of living. Yes, you’ve heard all of that before. Well, here’s a reminder, as well as some cool new products and treatments, to help you safeguard your skin this summer—and look good doing it.
Know the risk
Las Vegas is a breeding ground for two main types of skin cancer. Melanoma is the most common type of cancer for people 25-29 years old, and it can be deadly. It’s usually found in people who spend extended periods of time in the sun and burn easily. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type overall, and it mostly affects those who experience a high level of sun exposure over a lifetime. “The Vegas lifestyle puts us at risk. It’s shorts, hanging out by the pools, enjoying the outdoors,” says Dr. Jason Michaels, founder of and physician at Aspire Cosmetic MedCenter. “It’s also a sexy city. People want tans, and they want to look good.”
Know what to look for
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, but if it’s detected early enough, the cure rate is almost 100 percent, Michaels says.
The American Academy of Dermatology urges people to use the “ABCD” rules to detect signs of skin cancer:
Asymmetry: One-half of a mole or birthmark doesn’t match the other.
Border: The edges are irregular.
Color: The color is not the same all over.
Diameter: The area is larger than the size of a pencil eraser or is growing larger.
Other warning signs include a sore that doesn’t heal, or redness or swelling. When it comes to freckles, the same ABCD rules apply, Michaels says. “Look for the ugly duckling.”
Know the treatments
Skin irregularities require a trip to a board-certified dermatologist, Michaels says. Doctors might do a biopsy and then treat non-melanoma skin cancers with a cream or a process such as photodynamic therapy, which targets proliferating cancer cells and draws them out. Melanoma cancer needs to be treated aggressively and might need to be removed so it doesn’t spread.
Know summer skin care
To keep skin from becoming dehydrated, Daphne Davis, aesthetic director of Woodson Dermatology, recommends the HydraFacial, which infuses skin with antioxidants, and exfoliates it, suctions out pores and then injects nutrients such as Vitamin C. (The treatment costs between $125-$150 at Woodson, 2800 N. Tenaya Way). But Davis also cautions that many people overdo it with treatments. “Chemical treatments, laser, over-the-counter products, scrubs—oh my God, they’re doing everything!” she says.
An alternative solution is to use organic products, which let your skin breathe. Natural products penetrate the skin faster than those with preservatives, says Mary Lifrieri, aesthetician at ElevenSpa. They’re also ideal for people with sensitive skin. If you’re purchasing organic, it’s best to use them synergistically, but if you can’t afford that, an organic moisturizer is essential, she says. Organic treatments can also easily be done at home, such as mixing juice from a cucumber and distilled water to use as a balancing toner, or boiling oats just past the point of grittiness and slathering them on to draw out oil.
A wide-brim sun hat from Coolibar.
Know how to look good and be safe
Luckily, dermatologist-approved products make it easy to safeguard your skin and look beautiful. Davis recommends Color Science self-dispensing mineral makeup with SPF 50 sunscreen ($60, colorscience.com). The brush-on powder is made up of finely ground minerals without any of the chemicals, dyes and preservatives found in traditional makeup. “Ninety percent of the damage we do is attributed to not wearing sunblock,” she says. “People need to remember that the FDA approves a minimum of SPF 30, not 15 anymore.” Michaels is an advocate of sun-protective clothing such as items found at Solumbra.com and Coolibar.com. He says the clothes are a good substitute for sunscreen.