Looking younger has become an increasing obsession. Many Baby Boomers, in particular, seek to continue and extend their active lifestyles and preserve their youthful looks. As always, the quest for the fountain of youth is attainable, in part, through today's evolving fashions offerings. Among the most exciting of recent fashion trends is the resurgence of the hat as the ultimate accessory. The right hat can visually subtract years from the age of the wearer and reflect a sense of youthful style. More importantly, hats can serve a functional purpose that no other fashion accessory can match ? certain styles and brands can help preserve smooth, unlined skin, free from the unsightly and unhealthy effects of sun damage.The need for sun-protective headwear is well-established. It is estimated that 90% of all "aging" of the skin ? wrinkles, discoloration, and sagging ? is attributable to sunlight, rather than to the passage of time.
Women are flocking to cosmetic surgeons in droves to counteract the unpleasant side-effects of their sun-drenched childhoods and teenage years spent baking in the sun with baby oil. Women spend billions of dollars each year on the creams they hope will repair and allay the visible damage to their skin, which they associate so closely with their own beauty. Skin cancer has reached epidemic proportions and is now more prevalent than all other types of cancer combined. The Mayo Clinic Medical Essay reports that almost half of all Americans who reach age 65 will develop skin cancer of one form or another. After removal of cancerous skin cells, reconstructive plastic surgery is often necessary.Although publicity about the harmful effect of sun exposure has increased awareness of the need to protect skin, most women have a false sense of security arising from two myths. First, many women believe that sunscreen alone is effective at staving off skin damage.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Although sunscreens are an essential part of sun protection, they are not effective alone. Sunscreens rub off and sweat off. They are not applied uniformly and are not permanent. A sunscreen is only effective after it binds to the skin cells, which can take up to 20 minutes ? more than enough time for sun damage to begin. Even when sunblocks and sunscreens are active, the protection lasts only from 20 to 80 minutes, which is not nearly long enough for the healthy and active lifestyles women lead today. Finally, sunscreen blocks only some, not all, of the sun's damaging UV rays. By itself, sunscreen does not provide effective sun protection.The second myth that lulls many women into a false sense of security about sun damage is the belief that any hat will do the job. That straw beach hat you've been using for your trips to the beach must provide good sun protection, right?