Summertime! From fireworks to barbecue to hanging out at the municipal swimming pool, it is time to be outdoors! Watermelon and strawberries and popsicles. We throng to the beach, the lake, the fountain, and the swimming hole – wearing fewer clothes than any other time of year, baring skin that has not seen sunshine for eleven months. We expose our tender extremities to mosquitoes, wasps, poison ivy/oak . . . but the most dangerous of these is sunburn.

There is no question that exposure to sunlight – even for short periods of time – can do irreparable damage to our largest organ, our skin. Even with caution, over just a few decades, we put incredible stress on our skin. Skin cancer is a very real consequence at all ages.

Defenses include keeping the skin covered via protective clothing or using topical sunscreen application – lotion, cream, or gel. If you opt for protective clothing, you can purchase shirts, pants and hats that will keep their SPF rating through many launderings. (A good, old-fashioned long-sleeved linen shirt, light-colored loose-fitting trousers and a large-brimmed straw hat will suffice as well.) Remember to protect exposed skin – face, hands, and tops of feet – with sunscreen even if you are using protective clothing. If you prefer the sunscreen route, the choices are daunting. From SPF factor to fragrance to price, the possibilities are endless, and the claims – and the disclaimers – on the labels are puzzling.

Before you decide to give it up and buy the first sunscreen that has a polka-dotted label and an SPF of 18 (for lack of better criteria), please read the following report – published five years ago – about the preventive effects of green/white tea extracts. Then, take a look at the skin care industry’s response.

Has anyone tried this – or other – tea creams? Can’t I just mix a teaspoon or so of green or white tea with my daily skin lotion, or splash my face with leftover tea, and let it go at that?

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