Repairing sun damage: What works & what doesn't

FRESNO, Calif.

Americans spent more than $800 million last year on anti-wrinkle creams. Consumer Reports wanted to see how well anti-wrinkle creams work, testing seven products ranging in price from $8 to $80. The creams included big names like L'Oreal and Lancôme, as well as Equate from Walmart and the CVS store brand.

Jody Rohlena, Consumer Reports said, "We used an outside lab and a total of 79 people. The test took 12 weeks. The people applied two different creams in the morning, one on each side of their face."

The lab took 'before' and 'after' photos. Then Consumer Reports' sensory panelists examined the results - more than 600 photos in all.

After 12 weeks, only one cream did a little better than the others - Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift. But it only helped about half the people in the test. And as you can see in these before and after photos, the results are not very dramatic. Which brings many frustrated patients in to see /*Dr. Cynthia Lopez*/ at Rejuvimed in Downtown /*Fresno*/.

"No cream in a jar, in the whole world, can really reverse aging," said Dr. Cynthia Lopez. "It can probably help a little bit in delaying aging, but to reverse that damage that's already been, uh uh."

Dr. Lopez says the only proven anti-aging cream she prescribes is Tretinoin, also known as Retin-A, derived from vitamin A. Retin-A has been shown in scientific tests to improve skin texture and fade spots. A tube costs $80.00.

For more extensive damage, Dr. Lopez uses broad band light to zap sun spots and strengthen the underlying skin. Laser energy is applied directly to the pigmented areas, stimulating the production of new collagen.

While these treatments can be effective, they start at $300.00. Far cheaper, preventing sun damage in the first place. To do that, stay out of the sun as much as possible. And wear sunblock.

Dr. Lopez says sunblock by itself is not enough to prevent sun damage. She recommends a physical block including a hat, a scarf, and even an umbrella.

"Choose the time of the day where you want to be in the sun," said Dr. Lopez. "When the sun is on the horizon, when it's coming from the east and setting in the west."

And that way, you can save face, while saving money.

Drinking plenty of water also helps keep your skin looking healthy. And it's important to moisturize your skin day and night. But you don't need expensive creams to do that.

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