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Health

Summer Skin Care

Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

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I caught up with Joel Quinones of Houston’s Q Salon, to talk about how to take care of your skin while enjoying the summer sun.

What are some of the skin-care basics that we should be thinking about when heading out into the sun?

First off, the sun is hottest from 10 AM to 2 PM. If at all possible, wear hats, sunglasses, and keep as much covered by clothing as possible. Always wear a sunscreen on the areas exposed — face, neck, arms. If you wear shorts and flip flops, those areas need to be covered also.

You need a broad spectrum which blocks both UVA and UVB rays. There are also hair products that contain a sunscreen for hair. If you have colour on your hair to cover grey, the sun will lift that colour right off and leave you looking brassy, so hats and hair products with an SPF are recommended.

What are some of the considerations when choosing a sun-block?

I don’t mess around — an SPF of 30 or higher is my go-to. I have sunscreens that are for just my face, and then those just for the body. I have oily to combination skin, so I pick a sunscreen with an SPF of 50. The ones I use are light and have an almost mattifying effect on my face.

I love Kiehl’s Facial Fuel UV Guard Sunscreen for men. SPF of 50.

La Roche Posay makes an amazing duel product — it’s a moisturising serum and sunscreen in one — it’s called Anthelios AOX. It too is an SPF of 50 and is great on most skin types — it hydrates and protects.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch comes in up to 100 SPF. Amazing for oily skins.

Do I need sun-block if my grooming products include SPF protection?

Yes — they’re just not strong enough for today’s rays. If you live in a city where you walk everywhere — like New York or London — that exposure can really damage you. You’re supposed to reapply after 2–3 hours of sun exposure or getting wet.

What sort of after-sun skin-care should I be considering?

Gentle is the order of the day here. Cleansing oils and milky cleansers are best. They’ll clean thoroughly without over-stripping. Pat dry after you rinse, and proceed with your moisturising regime.

If I’ve suffered a bit of sun-burn, what’s the best way to try and cool the heat down and help the skin recover?

Cool showers and compresses are recommended. Use moisturisers that contain aloe vera and soy afterwards. Aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce redness and discomfort. Drink lots of water, because you really have to re-hydrate after a burn.

What sort of long-term damage can over-exposure to the sun cause to the skin?

UV rays will reach your inner skin layers. On the surface it could be a tan, or worse a sunburn. Underneath, skin cells are damaged, die and become cancerous. Signs are increased freckles and discoloration, wrinkles, signs of premature ageing and the risk of several different types of skin cancer.

Is it possible to repair sun-damaged skin?

Yes — there’s so much out there to help you improve what you have. The marriage of science and beauty has been a successful one.

First off, use sunscreen — every day. Exfoliate — scrubs, Alpha Hydroxy Acids, and microdermabrasion leave skin smoother and trigger cell regeneration. Brown spots and discoloration can be treated with kojic acid, hydroquinone, Retin-A, and Vitamin C. Products containing these ingredients can really brighten and lighten freckles or brown spots if used religiously. Hydrate your skin. Moisturisers that contain Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin, Lecithin, Sorbitol and Glycerol do lots to keep the skin supple and plumped up. Visit a professional like your dermatologist or esthetician to discuss photofacials, laser resurfacing treatments, microneedling, and peels — all must be administered by a professional. These can significantly restore skin, improve texture, and tone.

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What are some of the essential hints and tips that I should bear in mind when enjoying the warmth of the sun?

Limit your time in the sun. Cover whatever you can with the proper clothing. If you have only two seconds to use one product, then it should be sunscreen. Hydrate and drink lots of water, and get your electrolytes.

The sun isn’t all bad, 15–20 minutes of morning sunlight exposure can do a host of good too. It helps regulate our body clock, elevate our mood, help us produce Serotonin, and make Vitamin D. It’s also said to also alleviate certain skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema, acne and jaundice.

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Health

Sunday Surgery

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Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash
Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

Are we living in a post-HIV world?
In recent years we’ve seen a seismic shift in the effectiveness of treatment for HIV, as well as the emergence of PrEP — medication that prevents you from acquiring HIV.

This combination of factors has contributed towards a dramatic change in the attitude of gay men towards HIV, health, and sex.

It’s been difficult for public health policy to keep up, but it’s also difficult for older gay men like me to get our heads around the changing landscape of sex.

Official reports indicate that AIDS has killed over 35 million people worldwide. It’s estimated that around the world there are currently over 37 million people living with HIV.

In June of 1981, when the beginnings of the HIV pandemic were first being identified, I was approaching my ninth birthday. Lucky I guess, too young to be impacted by the first devastating waves of the virus that killed so many young gay men.

As I was beginning to discover sex, the public health messages very strongly articulated that sex without a condom equalled death.

It’s a bit hard to describe how that constant fear of infection and death shapes your view and experience of sex. I guess I’ve got no way of knowing what things would have been like without that — I like to think that it might have been something like San Francisco in the 70s, or a long, lust-filled summer on Fire Island.

I survived. I was careful. I was lucky.

It wasn’t until I saw the 2003 documentary The Gift that I became aware of the fetishisation of HIV, and a growing movement of men who embraced the risk and health consequences of fucking without condoms, of letting guys cum in you, the thrill of raw, or ‘bareback’ sex between men. It was an uninhibited hedonism best captured by the porn of Paul Morris and Treasure Island Media.

It’s easy to judge and disapprove of risk-taking behaviour, but there was something incredibly compelling about this type of no-holds-barred sex — no fear, no care for consequences.

The improvements in medication and the emergence of PrEP have now made bareback sex the norm. Not only in porn — where it’s now highly unusual to see anyone using a condom — but also in everyday life.

Health professionals sensibly remind us that condoms are still worth wearing as they protect us from a whole range of sexually transmitted infections, not just HIV, but the reality is that for many men sex is better when you don’t have to wear a condom.

For me, it’s a bit of a mind-trip that testing positive for HIV is no longer a death-sentence, that you can have sex without a condom and not worry if one of you might have the virus. That you can have no-holds-barred sex, with no fear, and no care for consequences.

It’s fantastic that today’s young gay guys, who are just beginning to discover and explore sex, don’t have to worry about HIV. Obviously they need to learn about it, they need to have access to PrEP, and they need to understand the full gamut of sexual health, but it’s just part of life.

Let’s not forget our history, let’s not forget the people we’ve lost, but let’s be thankful that young guys today are growing up in a world that’s something a bit like San Francisco in the 70s, or a long, lust-filled summer on Fire Island.

We may now be living in a post-HIV world.

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