Summer is officially here and this year it has really brought the heat! July is UV Safety Awareness Month and we want you to be prepared for all the exciting plans you have.
Let’s face it - who doesn’t love lying out in the sun and working on their tan? Well, the reality is that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US (one of the most common to affect women) and the sun is the main cause. Some other risks of being out in the sun include premature aging, sunburn, and even eye damage (like cataracts).
There are so many ways to protect yourself from UV radiation so you can still have fun without putting yourself at risk! Some easy steps you can take include wearing a cute, but functional hat, your favorite pair of sunnies, seeking shade when the sun is at its strongest (between 10am-4pm), and wearing protective clothing. Some clothing may have an ultraviolet protection factor, which can give you some extra peace of mind. These materials are also breathable so you won’t be melting in the heat of summer. Tanning beds may be tempting to get a quick fix tan, but they are just as harmful as being out in the sun and are linked to an increased risk of melanoma.
The most important way to keep those harmful rays at bay is to use sunscreen every day - yes, even if you are staying inside all day or won’t be outside for too long. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Not sure which sunscreen to pick? Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Chemical vs. Mineral (aka Physical) Sunscreens
Mineral sunscreens last longer and work right away while chemical sunscreens need to be applied at least 30 minutes before going outside to be effective. Mineral sunscreens are a little thicker than chemical ones so they tend to leave behind a white cast. There are so many different kinds of sunscreen out there from lotions and sprays to gels and sunsticks. Regardless of which type you choose, be sure to rub it in well so that you can get maximum coverage.
2. Sunscreen is water resistant, not waterproof
Believe it or not, waterproof and sweatproof sunscreen do not exist! They are water resistant at best and the label must say whether they will last 40 or 80 minutes after swimming or sweating.
You should also reapply sunscreen every two hours after sweating or being in the water!
3. Broad Spectrum, SPF 30
In order to protect yourself fully you should look for Broad Spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or higher for best protection. UVA rays make up 95% of UV rays that reach your skin and are linked to skin aging and age spots, eye injury and cataracts, and genetic damage. UVB rays on the other hand only make up 5% and are associated with sunburns, the main risk factor for melanoma.
4. Sunscreen should be applied everywhere, not just your face
Signs of skin cancer can appear anywhere on your body so it’s important to apply sunscreen everywhere. Common spots people forgot about are the scalp, around the eyes, the ears, and most important of all, the lips. The sun’s rays can bounce off surfaces like snow, sand, water, and yes, even the pavement, which increases your exposure to UV radiation. It’s also not a bad idea to invest in a foundation or moisturizer with SPF for a little extra protection in case you forget to apply sunscreen.
We hope you try these sun safety tips so you can make the most of your summer. As always, if you think you are at risk of skin cancer then be sure to consult an expert so you can get the right answers. Happy Summer!