On the first day of the little man’s camp, as I was putting a bottle of sunscreen in his cubby for reapplication during the day, I was told by his teacher/counselor that I couldn’t leave the sunscreen because
(a) some children may try to eat it, and
(b) the teachers are not permitted to put sunscreen on the kids.
Although this struck me as utterly nonsensical, I didn’t fret too much about it because I was told that in this camp program, the kids only play outside in the morning and not again thereafter. Therefore, the sunscreen that I put on him before drop-off should suffice.
For quite some time I have planned to devote this week’s article to sun protection and sharing with you some of my top picks for savvy sun protection resources – in light of the fact that Summer is now in full swing, and this week marks the one-year anniversary of my own melanoma diagnosis.
But when I saw Sunday’s article in the Huffington Post about 2 children who were forced to spend 5 – yes FIVE – hours outside for “Field Day” and were refused sunscreen because of school policy – with images of their tomato red swollen burnt skin – my blood just began to boil so fiercely I could hardly stand to read the whole article (and it’s quite short).
So, while this post was originally intended to be in a lighthearted “Best of” format, I feel compelled to share with you this important video and some raw data so we’re all clear on what we’re talking about here first. Then we can talk about what kind of sunscreen to use, and where to get great-looking sun-protective clothes.
- ONE bad sunburn before the age of eighteen DOUBLES your risk of getting melanoma.
- Skin cancer is by far the most common of all cancers.
- The development of melanoma on the trunk (chest and back) and legs is widely linked to an individual’s prior sunburns, especially those that occurred in childhood.
- One-in-50 Americans has a lifetime risk of developing melanoma.
- Compared to people who had never used a tanning bed, indoor tanners had a 74% increased risk for melanoma.
- Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States and worldwide.
- The incidence of people under 30 developing melanoma is increasing faster than any other demographic group, soaring by 50 percent in young women since 1980.
- Melanoma primarily affects individuals in the prime years of life, is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.
You can’t go back in time and undo your childhood sunburns, or take back those visits to the tanning bed, but together we can work harder to protect our children and to be diligent about checking our own skin for changes.
The Melanoma Research Foundation says the best way to prevent skin cancer is to:
- Seek shade.
- Cover up with clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand, as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
- Apply sunscreen with a sun-protective factor (SPF) of 30 or higher with both UVA and UVB protection. Reapply every two hours, even if it’s cloudy, and after swimming or sweating.
- Examine your skin often and take note of any changing or new moles.
Here’s What I Wear:
My favorite swim shirt is this one from Athleta. Love the piping, the fit, and the pocket, and it’s UPF 50.
Also loving these t-shirts and beach pants from Coolibar – all also UPF 50+.
Cabana Life has a more feminine line of rash guard shirts with matching bikini bottoms – these are on my wish list:
For the little man:
Check out Hillary Fogelson’s blog, Pale Girl Speaks, for more terrific clothing recommendations.
Daily, on my face, under make-up: DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ (DeVita’s having a Summer SALE right now!)
On my body parts that aren’t covered by clothing, daily: Original Sprout Face & Body Sunscreen SPF 24+
On my body, when I’m going to be outside for more extended periods of time (i.e., on a bike ride, at the playground, by the pool, etc): California Baby No Fragrance SPF 30+ Sunscreen Lotion or DeVita Solar Body Block SPF 30+
And on the little man:
The SAME stuff! Don’t buy all the “Kids” and “Baby” marketing mumbo jumbo. It’s bologna. High quality, zinc-oxide-based products that are all-natural and paraben-free like the above products are waaaaay better than something that’s labeled “Kids” or “Babies” – many of those products contain toxic chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, methylparabens, and more. Read the ingredient labels, not the marketing on the front of the bottle.
Check out Pale Girl’s recommendations for many more amazing product options, and terrific guidelines for what to look for and what to avoid. And if you’re ever in doubt, check out your own product on the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen database – they’ll give you an objective score.
Note: While having and using a quality sunscreen is great, it’s only effective if you use it properly. The actual dosage of sunscreen required for it to block as much sun as the SPF suggests is a shot glass full. If you’re using SPF 15 but not enough of it, it’s more like you’re using SPF 4. The other major mistake is failure to reapply. If not swimming, minimum reapplication is every 2 hours. But if you’re swimming, then it’s more.
Last, but not least, CHECK YOUR SKIN. Only YOU can know if a mole is new, changing, itching, or bleeding. If you’re not sure what to look for, learn your ABC’s here.
Ok, I’m off to pack for our weekend at the beach now! Practicing sun safety = many more happy summers! xo
I know you all have additional products and recommendations, so please share in the comments below! I’d love to be introduced to some new resources for great looking sun-protective clothes and other sunscreen options for the whole family!