Summertime is upon us. Time to sit back, relax and enjoy a cocktail. The first thing you probably aren’t thinking about is sunblock, but you should be. Being proactive for sun protection is important. Those of us with a personal or family history of skin cancer are usually the proactive ones, but it is important to be aware of your skin’s exposure to the sun and how it can affect you even if you aren’t in the high risk category. Skin cancer accounts for almost half of all cancer cases. To break that down is to say that you are five times more likely to get skin cancer than breast or prostate cancer.
Both my parents have had so many spots removed of all the types of skin cancer, I’ve lost count. Some have been from their face, parts of their ears, from their calves and arms. I learned early on what clean edges were and do everything I can in the name of prevention. My dad jokes that it looks like an arrow went through his temples after two matching spots were removed.
Being in the high risk category, I wanted to share some of my skin solutions for summer. My skin issues are tattoos, pale (and by pale I mean see-through), freckles, eczema, some acne which is aggravated by greasy sunblock products, and I like to do things outdoors. I have a dog that needs lots of walks! Swimming, hiking, walking the dog and other outdoor activities are harder in the summer because I tend to overheat if I wear too much clothing or burn if I wear too little sunscreen.
During the cooler months, I tend to stay more covered and only put the 15-30 block on my face and lower arms depending on my outdoor activities. Hoodies go from protecting me from the cold to protecting me from the sun in the summer. I love a good lightweight hoodie.
I put on at least 15 block (Aveeno Positively Ageless SPF30 is what I prefer, just a teeny dab for my face daily) when I get out of the shower. I add to that several times a day and sometimes bump up the block to my Neutrogena block on any exposed tattoos or my face if I plan on being outside for long. For swimming and full on outdoor activity I like my Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Body Mist Sunblock with Helioplex. Most of the lower SPF products don’t have the Helioplex so it’s an added bonus. This is available at Costco in a double pack with a small tube of their SPF 70 at less than $20. I always put the 70 block on any tattoos that will be exposed to the elements and give myself 10 minutes before going out in the sun.
Warning about the sprays:
There is nothing on the bottles typically that has this warning but if used with light clothing or under light clothing, they can cause an orange stain. I was using the Bullfrog Mosquito Coast block one summer with a white cotton shirt on over a tank and it turned the shoulders and anywhere it came in contact with dark orange. I wrote Bullfrog and didn’t get so much as a coupon. Only automatic responses thanking me for my submission and a letter apologizing for any inconvenience their product might have caused that was so vague it could have been for anything.
For those of you worried about what sunblock might do to us:
My own theory about the (EWG) skin cancer and sunscreen debate is that those of us who obsessively use sunscreen are probably mostly high risk so yeah, there’s a higher correlation of people who use sunscreen and those of us who get skin cancer. While I try to be faithful to my routine and put on at least spf15 every time I walk out the door, I am only human. Sometimes I get a wild hair and try to get some sun and only end up burned even while using protection. They do recommend that you not use oxybenzone products on children. If you are concerned about absorption, you can use avobenzone products with at least 3%. Mineral products (I am a sucker for Aveeno) don’t penetrate and provide higher UVA protection than the non-mineral blocks. Unfortunately this also means higher price ranges on these products and they don’t necessarily work “better.”
Whatever your needs for sun protection may be, there are a lot of answers out there if you simply Google “sunscreen” and something specific (“mineral”, “baby”, “face”, etc.) or you can find some good consumer reviews like this one.
If you happen to be at an event like PorcFest when you realize you may be getting too much sun, feel free to stop by the Fr33 Aid booth and use some of our sunscreen.