The Skinny on Skin

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Nina G. Jablonski, Professor and Head of the Department of Anthropology at Penn State University, and author of Skin: a Natural History, (University of California Press, 2006), explains the importance of protecting one's skin all year round.

Skin: a Natural History is available for purchase at


Nina G. Jablonski

Comments [8]


I'm 35, and have been wearing moisturizing sunscreen religiously for 15 years (but I don't sunbathe anyway, and wear a hat when I'm at the beach). There is a HUGE difference between my skin, and those of some peers who spent high school in tanning beds and at the beach. My friends and I often joke about how former teen goths have the best skin later in life. :)

Seriously though, we aren't dealing the the same sun as in previous generations. I see parents who let their kids bake in the sun, and am amazed at the abuse. Your teenage daugher's decolletage shouldn't have more spots and wrinkles than mine!

Sep. 05 2007 02:49 PM
Pablo Mayrgundter from Jersey City

The Globe and Mail ran an article this spring about the serious effects of vitamin D deficiency.. so don't avoid the sun unless you take a vitamin D supplement!

"[The] trial involving 1,200 women, and found those taking the vitamin had about a 60-per-cent reduction in cancer incidence, compared with those who didn't take it, a drop so large — twice the impact on cancer attributed to smoking — it almost looks like a typographical error. And in an era of pricey medical advances, the reduction seems even more remarkable because it was achieved with an over-the-counter supplement costing pennies a day. One of the researchers who made the discovery, professor of medicine Robert Heaney of Creighton University in Nebraska, says vitamin D deficiency is showing up in so many illnesses besides cancer that nearly all disease figures in Canada and the U.S. will need to be re-evaluated. 'We don't really know what the status of chronic disease is in the North American population,' he said, 'until we normalize vitamin D status."

Sep. 05 2007 11:02 AM
S from NYC

And in Japan, right now, having sickly pale skin is seen as attractive and "healthy". You see people outside wearing long sleeve shirts, long pants, sunglasses, gloves and hats as well as umbrellas. I'm sure they're covered in sun-screen, and skin-whitening products are very popular. That doesn't seem healthy to me at all either!!

Sep. 05 2007 10:59 AM
Melody from Manhattan

Not only do sunscreens promote cancer by blocking your vitamin D production, they are also likely carcinogens all by themselves. A study in the April 2004 Journal of Chromatography found that there is significant penetration of all sunscreen agents they studied into the skin.

Sep. 05 2007 10:57 AM
Nikki from Manhattan

Could your guest comment on UVA/UVB protection in cosmetics? Are these products effective and recommended?

Sep. 05 2007 10:57 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I'd been thinking the danger to our skin came from the ozone hole rather than global warming, but if winters get warmer, people might get more UV exposure if they're not bundling up as much!

Sep. 05 2007 10:56 AM
Gary from Manhattan

Sunscreens are the equivalent of low-tar cigarettes and low-fat pre-packages meals. Years from now, scientists will realize that all those people in the early part of the 21st century who thought that they could bake under the sun for hours without consequence by just putting some white “magic” sunblock on their skin were dead wrong—literally “dead” wrong.

Sep. 05 2007 10:53 AM
Gene from NYC

I'm fair-skinned, have had squamous cell cancer, and have been wearing sun screen since the 80s.

Even so, I have limited, sadly, my exposure, being worried that the sunscreen may stop burning but not other harmful rays.

With the recent public info on UVA, was I correct? Did most sunscreens over the last 20 years merely allow people to stay out longer and thus receive even more carcinogenic rays than they would have had they simply started burning (and thus gone inside)?

Sep. 05 2007 10:50 AM

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