Need sunscreen on a cloudy day? Yes, you bet!


Image obtained from wikipedia user Malene Thyssen.

I recently came back from the annual American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) meeting in San Diego. Usually we think of San Diego as being warm and sunny — well, not while we were there! We uncharacteristically got some downpours, clouds, and 40-50 degree weather. Meanwhile, it was in the 70s and sunny back home in Boston. Even still, it was a great meeting!

When we think of sunscreen, we often think of sunny days, being at the beach or playing outdoor sports. It’s important to remember though that the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays penetrate cloud cover. So even when it grim and gray outside, the UV hits your skin, still causing negative effects in the skin. Unfortunately, one of my friends found that out the hard way this past weekend after accidentally forgetting facial sunscreen and ended up with a sunburn on her face.

So, get in the daily habit of using a facial moisturizer in the morning with sunscreen. This will help protect you for your daily activities.  If you’re out for extended periods of time or sweat, you will have to reapply your sunscreen. Avoid sunburn and prevent aging and skin cancer!

You are what you eat. Fruits and veggies can change the color of your skin.

You might have seen recent press coverage of a scientific article on how eating fruits and vegetables changes the color of your skin and how the change in color leads to perceptions of health.

Carotene is a component of many fruits and veggies, most often mentioned in the context of the carrot (carotene sounds like carrot after all right?) When your levels of carotene are 3-4 times normal, you can get yellow-orange coloring of your skin (carotenoderma)! It’s kinda like a fake bake — but the color’s not quite right (a bad fake bake maybe…)!

In and of itself, this color change of the skin is not harmful if it’s truely only from diet. There are other serious medical illnesses that can essentially mimic this coloration of the skin.

So… I leave it up to you to decide. Check out this link to a New England Journal of Medicine image of a normal hand and a hand with this yellow-orange coloring (carotenoderma). Let me know which skin color you find more attractive!

Why go fragrance-free?

These days, you may have noticed that many skin care products and detergents market themselves as fragrance-free. Why is this the case?

Fragrances are among the most common causes of allergies. With the use of fragrance containing lotions, creams, cleansers, deodorants, detergents, etc., many individual have noticed rashes, redness, irritation and itching of the skin. Obviously, perfumes and colognes have fragrances in them and can cause irritation in individuals who use these products.

One way we test whether people have a skin allergy to fragrances is to expose a small part of their skin to different mixes of fragrances and see if the skin reacts. If so, it may confirm the presence of a fragrance allergy.