I Have a Tennis Problem

May 31, 2016

 

I love crushing forehands, but I don't want lizard skin.

 

After three decades in New York, a year ago I moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, the lightning capital of the U.S. There's also no shortage of sunshine, and, thanks to tennis, I'm out in it—a lot. During my 10 hours a week—private lessons, cardio training, group clinic—I'm silently sizing up the sun damage on the teensy-skirted women around me. "That'll be me in another 10 years," I mutter, waiting for a serve. "Five if I'm not careful." Now, thanks to some improvement in my forehand, the cool broads—the ones with the killer lobs and creepey skin—are asking me to play with them.

Here's the thing with tennis: The better you get, the longer you're out there. I desperately need a two-pronged lizard-skin-prevention strategy. Prong One: short-term damage-blocking via one of my least favorite things on the planet, sunscreen. Prong Two: Star Wars–style gadgets you can use to turn back the  clock the instant you step off the court.

First things first. I was basically a vampire workaholic during my Manhattan years, so I never got into the habit of putting on sunscreen. When I do wear it, I prefer sunblocks with zinc or titanium dioxide, but they leave me with a Madame Tussauds–ish ghostly glow. Jessica Iclisoy, founder of California Baby sunscreens, is a fellow chemicalphobe and tennis buff. She describes her game as "very Boris Becker, diving around," and her pregame prevention routine is not for sissies either. "If I'm going to be out in direct sun for a few hours, I apply three layers of sunscreen, waiting 15 minutes after each to allow it to set."

How does Iclisoy get around the wax figure pallor? By using a lightly tinted ­mineral-based product she recently whipped up and now sells online.

That's too elaborate for me, but I know I need to get with a protection program. "UV rays trigger free radicals, which act like darts on our skin, poking holes in our collagen and elastin," says New York skin doc Dennis Gross. "As a dermatologist, all I care about is that people wear SPF."

Message received. Happily, I've just discovered two sweat-resistant sunblocks I really like: CoTZ Sensitive SPF 40 , which I use on my face, and Goddess Garden Organics Sport SPF 30 , for my body. They both go on white, then magically disappear. Whew.

But what can I do to rejuvenate  parched, overheated skin, especially from the neck down? While treatments for the face abound (seriously, there are roughly 8 billion ways to obliterate nasolabial folds), ways of de-aging the body have only recently begun gaining traction.

Why the uptick? Three reasons, says New York dermatologist and laser savant Roy Geronemus. One, more precise skin-­rejuvenating devices hit the market every day. Two, there's a growing awareness of the disconnect between a supertaut, youthful face and a wrinkly, crinkly everything else. And, three, well-heeled clients increasingly bounce among homes in different climates. "This isn't a Florida problem," he adds, regarding the last point.

Geronemus stocks an array of youthifying machines in his practice, and they fall into three big buckets: laser, radio­frequency, and ultrasound. The Fraxel Dual, which uses both invasive and fractional lasers, yields excellent results on the body. "I treat neck, chest, arms, hands, and legs routinely," Ger

 

ted areas of pigmentation, like brown spots. It helps enormously with sun damage."

In her Miami practice, dermatologist Leslie Baumann deploys both the Venus Legacy, a radio frequency tightening treatment, and Ultherapy, an ultrasound method that was initially marketed for lifting droopy brows and chins but was recently cleared by the FDA for ironing out wrinkles in the sun-magnet décolletage area. "Both help sagging skin," Baumann says. "Ultherapy hurts but requires fewer treatments—just one or two, spaced three months apart. Venus Legacy feels good, like a hot stone massage, but you need to do one a week for six to eight weeks."

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