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Savvy sun protection for winter escapees

Even though the sun boosts vitamin D intake and ramps up serotonin (those fun feel good brain chemicals), you probably hadn't counted on your Sun Protections Pays OffSun Protections Pays Offvacation being the precipice for the slippery slope to old age.

The bottom line is that sun exposure just isn't healthy, says Dr. Craig Eichler, dermatologist and president of the Florida Society of Dermatology. "A tan is what skin looks like after it's been damaged, and that damage occurs long before you get a tan or burn."

Instead of shunning the sun completely on your next Caribbean escape, start your day off with a healthy dose of sunscreen.

"We tend to skip areas or don't apply enough to achieve the protection level on the bottle," Eichler says.

Apply it liberally, but not so thick it's visible: teaspoon for the face and neck, another teaspoon for each arm and each leg. According to Eichler, a trip to the beach should take almost a full ounce per adult. Which means you'll need to pack more than just 1 bottle if you're heading out with your partner for a full week - and more if the kids are tagging along.

Protecting your precious skin from premature aging doesn't mean being a fugitive of summer. It just means using some common sense.

Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen - one that blocks UVA and UVB rays - and make sure it contains micronized zinc oxide and/or parsol 1789 (also called avobenzene).

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