Skin, cities, and Earth Day
With spring comes longer days and more time in the sun, so in honor of Earth Day and the hours you spend outside enjoying this blessed planet, we’ve prepared a story about protecting your skin—tricky business, given the state of our ozone layer.

As a fair-skinned person, I grew up needing to be diligent about applying sunscreen to prevent burning. Since my early 20s I’ve slathered on lotions with an SPF of at least 30 every morning, even when it’s cloudy. Friends tease me because I religiously do the same for my daughter. At her day care she is often the only child on the sign-in sheet with a checkmark in the sunscreen column, as in, yes, I did apply it to her face even though it is a snowy day and highly unlikely the sun will poke through. Several years ago during a trip to the beaches of Australia, I looked extremely silly the entire time because, knowing about the country’s depleted ozone, I protected my skin by wearing tan-colored zinc oxide all over my face. It’s better to sacrifice a bit of vanity now, I figured, in favor of fewer wrinkles and healthier skin later on.

Skin cancer is a serious issue, and our story “Skin Forecast” offers valuable information about natural ways to prevent it. For example, did you know that green tea, white tea, fish oils, ginseng, milk thistle, and pomegranate fruit extract may offer protection? We also help you sort out which sunscreens are the most effective and how to figure out the status of the ozone layer in your neck of the woods.

Also this month, we celebrate Earth Day with our third annual Impressive City Awards, bestowed upon metro areas that have used green practices either to avoid environmental problems or to turn existing problems into earth-friendly solutions. Some of this year’s recipients may surprise you. Click here to find out why Pittsburgh, Berkeley, Cleveland, Seattle, and Austin are award-winners for 2005.

Jean Weiss