I am fair-skinned and usually burn in the sun. Are sunbeds safe to acquire a tan? Will my skin age the way it would in the sun?

Because one can tan on the sunbeds without burning there is a temptation to overuse them. However, we suggest that they are most useful when applied moderately. They are especially good for those who burn in the sun. The tan from such a bed is usually fairly even and the burning ultra violet B rays have been virtually eliminated – about .04 to .05 per cent of the rays are left to stimulate the tanning process. Those who cannot tan in the normal sun will not tan with the sunbed, because of a lack of color pigment.

You should not use the tanning beds if exposure to normal sunlight aggravates the appearance of cold sores. Certain prescription drugs can cause photo-sensitive reactions so you should check with your doctor if you are antibiotics such as sulpha drugs and tetracycline; some high blood pressure medications; tranquilizers; diuretics; or some oral medications for the treatment of diabetes. If you have an allergy to the sun, you would also likely have a reaction with the sunbeds.

If you decide to use one, there are certain precautions you can follow to ensure further safety. Begin with short intervals, every other day. Some salons recommend you come every day, even from the beginning, but we do not agree with this.

Start with 15-minute exposure and work your way up from that, especially if you have fair skin. Don’t tamper with the timer as the radiation is quite intense. Use protective eye goggles usually provided by the salon. There is a possibility of eye damage if you allow too much of the ultra violet rays to penetrate. Closing the eyes or covering with cotton or other materials is not sufficient protection.

The beds tan fairly evenly but sometimes white spots can appear on the shoulder blades and over the sacrum, where the pressure on the bed inhibits the circulation to the area. This can be avoided if you turn on your stomach every third or fourth session (most times you will be lying on your back). Continue to use a sunscreen when out in the sun, as the burning ultra violet B rays can still penetrate. You many experience discomfort from the intense heat generated by some beds, especially if the beds have been in use all day, even though most have cooling fans blowing across the bulbs. The heat is often intensified on models that have a curved, rather than a flat, bottom.

Over all, if you wish to acquire a tan, the evidence is that this is a safer way to do it than by lying in the sun. Since it is the burning rays that cause the skin damage, this type of tanning should have less of an aging effect on the skin.

I wish to change to another hair stylist and colorist. How can I tell if I have found a good one?

We suggest you make an appointment for a consultation to be sure that you and the stylist think along the same trends, and basically agree on the type of style you want. At that time the stylist should take a look at your hair’s texture and the way it falls. He/she should also check for irregularities such as an uneven hairline, large ears, thinning areas, hair licks, natural waves, etc. After all, one wouldn’t give a close- cropped look to someone whose head is flat in the back or cut the hair short over the ears if they are large or protruding. Also it is important that they consider the shape of your face, your height, and your preferences such as your lifestyle and how much time you are willing to spend on your hair every day.

You want to find a colorist who also considers your facial shape, hairstyle, your natural hair and skin color and especially the condition of the hair. If your hair has been subjected to chlorine in the pool or sun bleaching, or if it has been chemically treated within the last few months, he or she will likely use different formulas to avoid further damage. Remember that coloring will dry the hair somewhat and that treated hair needs special care.

On the plus side of coloring, the trend today is natural – which means less color damage. Most people prefer highlighting or streaking and this way, the process doesn’t have to be repeated so often. Color on fine hair will make it feel thicker because the coloring (or a perm) swells the hair shaft. Due to the slight drying effects, oily hair will enjoy the benefit of being somewhat degreased.

I have some small growths on my face that have come up recently. They look like a mole, are brownish, slightly raised and crusty. Do these come with age?

There could be a number of reasons why you have these growths. Many times such things do appear with age but any new growths should be seen by a doctor. Quite often they are benign but it is best to always have them checked.

After I apply my body lotion all over, I take the excess on my hands and apply it to my face. It saves a lot of time and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I just want to know if you think it’s all right to do this.

It is a better choice to use a moisturizer that is formulated for your facial skin and its specific type – dry, oily, combination, sensitive, etc. Using body lotion may seem inexpensive but in the long run you could be cheating your skin of what it really needs to stay young and healthy- looking. The facial skin is usually different from the rest of the body and is exposed more to the elements, so it requires special protection. Also, body lotions are not tested as extensively as facial products. They may cause irritation, especially across the cheeks and around the eyes.