Here Comes the Sun.

For many of us, the summer means long sunny days outside – at BBQs, pools and beaches. Yet, those sunny days can be deadly.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 2 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed each year, while more than 68,000 people develop melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. These are all linked unprotected or excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, as well as sunburns as a child. While we can’t do anything about the sunburn we got as toddlers and teenagers, we can protect our kids, and ourselves, going forward.

  • Avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm.
  • Look for shade, though be careful. Sometimes the rays can bounce underneath an umbrella for example from water or sand.
  • Choose clothing that have tightly woven fabrics or fabrics infused with SPF protection.
  • Wear makeup with SPF.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher, and that is labeled broad spectrum.
  • Make sure your hat shades your face, ears and neck. Baseball hats are not the best protection.
  • Apply a generous amount of sunscreen at least 20 minutes before being exposed to the sun, and reapply after swimming, toweling dry, or perspiring or being outside for more than 2 hours, since it can lose its effectiveness.
  • Wear sunglasses with 100% UV absorption.
  • Remember that on cloudy days, you still need protection from the sun since the UV rays filter through the clouds.

One way to remember it all is to recall this motto from the American Cancer Society: “Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap.”

  • Slip on a shirt,
  • Slop on sunscreen,
  • Slap on a hat, and
  • Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and sensitive skin around them from ultraviolet light.

While the motto is clever, there are some interesting developments in the world of sunscreen. According to a study by Consumer Reports, there are several sunscreen ingredients that some consumers may wish to avoid, such as titanium or zinc oxide, oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. There is a lot of debate in this area, so consumers should review these ingredients and studies to determine if some ingredients are a concern for their families. The same study goes on to show that price does not equate to a better product either.

For overall sunscreen protection, the Food and Drug Administration issued new rules that will go into effect next year to enable consumers to make an informed decision regarding UVB and UVA radiation. Based on the latest science, the FDA determined there was enough data to establish a “broad spectrum” test to show whether a sunscreen product provides UVA protection that is proportional to its UVB protection. Sunscreen products that pass the broad spectrum test are allowed to be labeled as “Broad Spectrum” because they will protect against both UVA and UVB rays, which has been shown to increase the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. So look for that new label beginning in the summer of 2012.

Any other tips to share? Fans on Facebook love California Baby, Ocean Potion 50 for sensitive skin, Target’s Up & Up brand and Banana Boat. What’s your favorite?

Image Credit: dynamix via stock.xchng

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