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Why you'll wish your face looked like your butt.

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It doesn't matter how many times you are told that sun exposure is bad for your skin. The negative impact doesn't usually happen right away, and it can be easy to shrug off warnings and advice, and convince yourself that none of that bad stuff will happen to you.

It's harder however, to argue against concrete images that prove beyond a doubt exactly what that sun exposure is doing to your skin. To wit, check-out this quick game of "Guess the age of that butt" and "How old is that face?" (It is safe to say that I have never been so intrigued by a collage of buttocks before.)

Take a good, hard look at the attached image: can you tell which derriere belongs to a 25, 45 and 65-year old?

My patients often tell me that their friends make fun of them for being so diligent about sun-protection, and to those that don't know-- I suppose that religiously applying SPF 50 all winter long can seem silly. However, to brilliantly demonstrate the subversive effects that sun damage has on our skin, day-in and day-out, Julie Kenner, M.D., PhD recently constructed a very simple experiment that was published in Cosmetic Dermatology.

The "Cheek Quiz" consisted of five women, each in different decades of life (20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, and 60's) that agreed to have both their faces and their bare buttocks photographed.

The sets of pictures were randomly mixed, and then 50 participants were asked to look at the pictures, and identify which picture went with which age.

Whereas over 75% of the participants were able to correctly identify the women's age group based on their facial pictures, less than 5% were able to guess the women's age based off the appearance of their buttocks. (Can you? Answers are at very bottom.)

The organizers of this experiment were pleased with their findings, because it provided such a clear point about the importance of sun protection. The faces, which are exposed to sun damage all year long, showed the distinct passage of time. However the skin on the buttocks looks almost indistinguishable from each other -- age be damned -- because that skin is always covered up and never exposed to the sun's damaging rays. (The presence of cellulite provides the only clue about the age of the rear-ends.)

This goes to show the extent of aging that occurs due to sun exposure. Stay out of the sun, have pretty skin forever. Expose your skin to sun, and deal with the onslaught of aging. Sun damage is the #1 cause of premature aging, and it is a unique concept to think that it'd be better if our face's looked more like our buttocks...

It probably goes without saying, but daily sun protection is vital-- whether it is winter and you are in the office all day, or it is summer and you're spending time at the beach. Your skin is being exposed to harmful UVA and UVB rays all the time, whether you're cognizant of it or not.

It's in your best interest from both a health and aesthetic stand-point to nip the danger in the bud(tock?) and simply protect your skin. Fortunately,sun protection is something that we are all much more aware of now, and to that end there are a million varieties of sun protection available so that even the pickiest person can have a way to happily protect themselves. Clothing, hats, tinted windows, sunscreen, take advantage of the plethora of skin-saving options, and keep your butt-perfect forever.

Face-to-tush answer: 2C (45 years old), 1A (25 years old), 3B (65 years old)

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