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7 Ways to Be a Skin Cancer Warrior

By age 50 most women have experienced some form of sun damage - and many have been through the ordeal of skin cancer.

That's why L'Oreal Paris and the Melanoma Research Alliance have teamed up to launch the It's THAT Worth It Thunderclap online initiative ( For each person who signs up on the site by 5 p.m. ET on May 20 and shares melanoma prevention information with friends, L'Oreal Paris will make a $1 donation to melanoma research.

For me, it's a subject that hits very close to home. In 2008, I had basal cell cancer, surgery and follow-up reconstruction therapy to restore my nose. Even L'Oreal spokesperson Diane Keaton had a basal cell cancer removed from her cheek. A long white scar reminds her to apply sunscreen daily.

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While basal and squamous cell cancers are serious and may be disfiguring, melanoma is deadly. Here are seven tips for staying skin-healthy in the sun:

LOOK FOR 'BROAD SPECTRUM' ON THE LABEL. If there's a single SPF number but no broad-spectrum sunscreen signage, move on. You want coverage for both UVA (aging) rays and UVB (burning) rays.

APPLY SUNSCREEN FROM DAWN TO DUSK REGARDLESS OF WEATHER. Clouds, haze, rain, fog and cold weather are not passes to forget the sunscreen. UVB rays penetrate 365 days a year, and those long-term aging UVA rays nab you even through glass.

CHOOSE AN SPF THAT'S AT LEAST 30+. Higher SPFs like 60 and 70 appeal to our more-is-better mentality, but 30 does the job effectively. Makeup with low or no SPF is not protecting you. And you'd need heavy makeup application and repeat applications for the kind of protection a sheer broad-spectrum sunscreen provides.

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REAPPLY EVERY TWO HOURS IN SUNLIGHT. Even if you're just reading your Kindle in the shade, driving to work or taking a quickie lunch break at an outdoor cafe, do it. Use an undetectable, instantly absorbing, nongreasy broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen that works solo, under and over makeup.

REMEMBER YOUR SCALP AND HANDS. Make a dry-mist spray that won't leave your hair or hands feeling greasy part of your routine. Apply to your part and around your hairline if your hair is short or pulled back, as well as to the tops of your hands and fingers. New York City dermatologist Gervaise Gerstner, M.D., says age-50+ women are often alerted to possible skin cancers by their hair stylists and manicurists.

WATCH YOUR MOLES AND GET DERMATOLOGIST BODY CHECKS. According to melanoma research specialist Todd Ridky, M.D., lots of melanomas come from preexisting moles - and there may be a genetic tie-in. If you have a family member with melanoma, your chances are double.

GET YOUR VITAMIN D ELSEWHERE. Forget that just-20-minutes-of-brief-sun-exposure theory. Drink some milk! Eat salmon, tuna and sardines, too.

For more beauty and style tips for women 50 +, check out my books The Wardrobe Wakeup by Lois Joy Johnson ($14.55, and The Makeup Wakeup by Lois Joy Johnson and Sandy Linter ($15.83,

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