ARE YOU A SUNSCREEN HOLDOUT? “I Never Burn….Why Should I Bother?” What you can’t see can harm you. If you still believe you are immune to the burning, aging rays of the sun, think again. Skin cancer rates are on the rise and have been for years. Melanomas are appearing in more and more in teenagers. Even with all the information about there, still you never quite make it to the sun protection aisle of your drugstore. While Sunscreen is still your best option to protect your skin against the sun’s rays, there are other things you can do to protect yourself, even if you are a sunscreen holdout.
Why Use Sunscreen?
“Sunscreen is a vital tool in the fight against skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form,” says board-certified dermatologist Tanya Kormeili, MD, FAAD. “However, in a recent survey, the AAD found that only about a third of Americans are reapplying their sunscreen every two hours while outside. Since sunscreen wears off, incorrect usage leaves you unprotected and susceptible to skin cancer.”
It is also a great way to keep your skin from aging prematurely. After all, who wants wrinkles and age spots?
Good News for SPF Holdouts:
The good news is that for SPF holdouts, and everyone who wants extra protection, you can get it in other ways. All you have to do is get dressed. You can do that, right?
For people who really want as much sun protection as they can get……and holdouts like you sun protective clothing can be both trendy and stylish. What you need to look for is the UPF (not SPF) rating of the fabric.
Ideally, it should be 50+. UPF 50+ helps to block out 98% of the sun’s harmful rays. UPF is a broad-spectrum UVA and UVB measure for fabric and it rates the amount of UV radiation that penetrates a fabric and reaches the skin.
A garment with a UPF of 50 only allows 1/50th of the UV radiation falling on the surface of the garment to pass through it. It blocks 49/50ths or 98% of the UV radiation. Clothing brands that cite SPF are not full spectrum protection.
Companies like Lands End (www.landsend.com) UV Skinz (www.uvskinz.com), Coolibar (www.coolibar.com) Cabana Life (www.cabanalife.com) make wearing sun protective clothing easy and fashionable. Mix and match pieces can help you create myriad looks. And, make sure to include a sun protective hat when you shop for this kind of clothing. UnderCover Waterwear makes stylish swim/leisure wear with UPF.
Sunglasses and hats also can protect you from the sun’s damaging rays.
Sun hats and visors can go far in protecting your scalp and face when out in the sun, especially if you’re out between 10 AM-3PM, when the sun is the strongest and most damaging.
The Advice Sisters reviewed some from Walleroo hats that will look great and keep your skin, safe(r).
Some (non SPF) Sun Safety Tips:
Do look for a seal from the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists to help ensure that your clothing really offers protection from the sun.
Cabana Life also suggests that you follow the care instruction for UPF clothing to the letter. This type of clothing needs to be hand washed, air-dried flat and never machine washed or dry cleaned. This will help preserve and protect the function that these fashions provide.
The maker of Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing explains that tighter weaves are more protective than loosely woven fabrics. Their clothes feature additions of the best active ingredients found in sunscreens, millions of the sun-bouncing minerals, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide infused at the fiber or fabric level.
They say that even with multiple washings and exposure to sweat, chlorine and salt – their sun protection never washes out.
So, really, what excuse are you going to come up with this spring and summer? After all, you do have to get dressed every day, don’t you? Why not turn your wardrobe into a sun defense strategy? No one will ever guess that your fashionista-self is also a sun-savvy trend setter!
Get the Most Out Of Your SPF:
Here are some common mistakes you won’t’ want to make:
Ignoring the label. There are a variety of sunscreens on the market. To effectively protect yourself from the sun, the AAD recommends looking for sunscreens that are broad-spectrum, water-resistant and have an SPF of 30 or higher.
Using too little. Most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. However, to fully cover their body, most adults need about one ounce of sunscreen – or enough to fill a shot glass. Apply enough sunscreen to cover all skin that isn’t covered by clothing. Apply the sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors, and reapply every two hours while outdoors or after swimming or sweating.
Applying only in sunny weather. Alarmingly, the AAD found that only about 20% of Americans use sunscreen on cloudy days. However, the sun emits harmful UV rays all year long. Even on cloudy days, up to 80% of UV rays can penetrate your skin. To protect your skin and reduce your risk of skin cancer, apply sunscreen every time you are outside, even on cloudy days.
Using an old bottle. The FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least three years. Throw out your sunscreen if it’s expired or you’re unsure how long you’ve had it. In the future, if you buy a sunscreen that lacks an expiration date, write the purchase date directly on the bottle so that you know when to toss it out.
Relying solely on sunscreen. Since no sunscreen can block 100% of the sun’s UV rays, it’s also important to seek shade and wear protective clothing, including a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.
Learn More: Some previous sun protection stories:
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Update from the FDA About Sunscreens:
A note from Alison Blackman, Editor if Chief, advicesisters.com: Sunscreen is an important way to protect yourself from harmful UV rays of the sun; both the UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays). However, a 2019 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that some sunscreen ingredients may actually be harmful because the report indicates that certain sunscreen ingredients can travel through the skin and build up in the bloodstream.
While this finding has raised concerns about how some sunscreen ingredients might affect reproductive and developmental health and whether they can cause cancer, we are not alarmists. We don’t suggest you stop using sunscreen. That’s not what the report suggests.
The advice sisters have regularly recommended both chemical and physical sunscreens. If you are concerned about some of the common ingredients found in chemical sunscreens (e.g. avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule, and octocrylene.) we highly recommend you consult with your doctor. We cannot comment as medical professionals on the JAMA report other to say that if you want to be assured that you are safe. start using physical sunscreens that contain no chemical ingredients. This usually means opting for sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The downside is that some formulas can make your skin look chalky but that should be temporary if the ingredients are “micronized.” The choices are yours to make as you see fit.